Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Big Plan for 2008

I've been a big time blog slacker lately. Sorry! Not much of interest has been going on pokerwise lately, but I do have a major plan for 2008. This plan started when one day I was looking at the pokerstars website and I decided to drool over the benefits a player could get by reaching the highest level of pokerstars VIP status: Supernova Elite.

To reach that level you need to earn a million base frequent player points (FPPs) in a calender year. For every dollar in tournament juice that you pay you get 5 points meaning you'd have to pay $200,000 in juice in one year (an insane amount) to make it. Or for every cash game hand you play where they take at least a dollar you get 1 point and if they take two dollars you get 2 points (there's not bonus if they happen to take more). To give you some perspective in 2007 I earned about 300,010 base FPP's.

So what do they give you for making it to this nut-so level? Well they give you FREE entry into TWO $10,000 buy in poker tournaments (you get to choose between the WSOP main event, the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure and the EPT Monte Carlo) plus $2,000 for expenses for each tournament and a $2,600 entry into the WCOOP main event. They also give you cash bonuses along the way . When you reach 200,000 base FPP's they give you $2,000. At 300,000, you get ANOTHER $3,000. At 500,000 you get ANOTHER $5,000 and at 750,000 points you get ANOTHER $7,500.

So as I was drolling over all of this sweet stuff and dreaming of playing in the WSOP main event again as well as the PCA which is in the Bahamas I thought to myself "I need to find a way to make this happen!"

I did the math and discovered that I would need to play about 90 $109 SNG's a day, 20 days a month all year to make it happen. That amounts to 10 hour days, every day with little or no vacation. Keep in mind that these aren't 10 hour days like normal people have 10 hour days. They have commute time and time talking to other people and time eating. This is 10 hours of making a decision every 8 seconds. I'm sure there are people out there who could do that, but I am not one of them.

I knew how many points I could earn playing NL cash games and knew it wouldn't be enough (I'd have to play about 1.75 million hands in a year), but I wasn't sure about limit cash games. So I decided to do a little experimenting. I quickly discovered that playing $5/$10 six-handed limit hold'em games I can make about 1.05 base FPPs per hand. Meaning that if I play 80,000 hands a month I'll be able to earn enough points to become Supernova Elite. I can play 500 hands an hour so that should be exactly twenty 8-hour days a month.

Amazingly, neglecting all of the year end bonuses and the milestone bonuses, just the FPP's alone from playing 80,000 hands in these games are worth $4,500! If you add it all up it means that if I can BREAK EVEN I'll end up making $96,652 in bonuses next year!!!

While I suspect I should be able to beat these games, I'm not certain that I can. I've got about $20,000 in my pokerstars account right now and I figure I'm willing to lose about 2/3 of that before I pull the plug and go back to playing NL tournaments as my main poker activity. Also I don't know if I can handle the work load for an entire year. This also means that I won't be able to play much in the the way of tournaments in person or online since all of my energy and effort is going to go into this one major goal. I don't know if I have it in me, but I'm going to try. If I can make a measly ten cents a hand that would be another $100,000 on top of the bonuses. This could be really big!

I'll try to keep you posted on my progress. My plan for the blog in the new year since I'm going to be working more is to try to post at least weekly, but just with short posts since all I'm going to be doing is going after this one goal. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Few Brief Tournament Results

Things have not been going well in tournament land. I had two close calls in the fulltilt series the first of which took place in the $216 pot limit hold'em event. The tournament paid 216 spots and with about 375 players left (of the 1468 that started) I got dealt KQ. With blinds of 250/500 I opened for 1,500 and the player in the small blind called. We took the flop heads up and I was happy to see K T 5 on the board. My opponent checked and I bet 3,000. To my surprised my opponent moved all in and left me with a tough decision. I'd started the hand with about 12,000 chips which was just about average, but if I folded now I'd be left with around 7,500. I felt like I was probably behind, but I decided to call anyway since there was so much in the pot already. When the cards got turned over I saw that my opponent had KJ! AH HA! All I need is to dodge a jack and I'll have more than twice average getting close to the money! And then...Jack on the turn. Shit! I was out.

The next tournament I played was the $109 with rebuys. I managed to get in for only $209 and again found myself in good shape as we approached the money. We'd started with 1,600 players and again they were paying 216 spots. With about 350 players left I was faced with another tough decision. The blinds were 300/600, I had 15,000 chips which was about average, and I got dealt AQ in the small blind. A player in front of me moved all in for a little over 12,000 and I stopped to think.

This was clearly an excessive raise and under normal circumstances my first thought would be that the raiser had AK. But this guy was TOTALLY nuts. I'd been involved in half a dozen hands with him and he was making very strange plays. The wackiest thing he did was with blinds of 250/500 a player raised to 1,100, the next player to act moved all in for 3,800, and then the nut job moved all in for 10,000 with J 2! You can't bluff the guy who's all in and since he's already reraising the chances of J 2 being the best hand are absolutely zero. This may be the worst play I've ever seen this late in a $200+ tournament. It turned out the player who made it 3,800 had AK and the nut job rivered a 2 to win the pot.

So faced with an all in raise from this guy I figured he could have just about anything. In retrospect I should not have risked 80% of my chips on this one hand when I could have avoided it. Just making the money was worth $460 and I had enough chips that I didn't need to be taking massive risks. Anyway I called, he had AK and I lost almost all of my chips. Two hands later I got my remaining chips in with 33 vs AJ and lost that one as well. What a disappointment.

While I was very close in both of those tournaments, my seat barely got warm before I was out in the $1,060 tournament at Lucky Chances. We started with 4,000 chips each and about a half an hour in I lost about 1,000 when I made a semi bluff with a flush draw against a short stacked player and missed. A few hands later with blinds of 50/75 I raised to 250 with KQ and got one caller. The flop came all small cards and after he checked I bet out 500. He thought for a moment and then called. The turn was another blank but this time my opponent bet out 1,000 and I was forced to fold. I was down to less than half my starting stack.

About 10 minutes later with blinds still at 50/75 a player in the field opened for 250 and got two callers. I was in the big blind and thinking to myself that if I found anything at all I'd move all in for my remaining 1,800 or so. It might be counterintuitive to think that with three people already in it would be a good time to make a move. One of them HAS to have a good and right? Wrong! In fact the only player I was really worried about was the initial raiser. If the other two players had something they really liked they'd have reraised, but by just calling they were telling me that they had good, but not great hands. Certainly it was very likely the neither had a hand worth calling an extra 1,550. Furthermore the initial raiser knows that not only does he have to worry about my hand, but one of the other players might decide to call as well if he continues.

So when I looked down at 44, I confidently moved all in. If someone had a big pair I was pretty much screwed, but I thought I might get called by unpaired overcards which would make me about 50/50 to win or win the pot without a fight. I got rid of the first two players to act after me but the third called with AQ. The flop came down K K T which was not a good flop since I'd now need to dodge an A, Q, J, or T on the turn. The turn was a 6 which meaning I had to dodge a 6 as well. Sadly the river as an A and I was out.

When you add up all the results I still have $2,284 of my $4,000 starting bankroll. I have three more tournaments that I'm going to play to conclude the series and all of them go down next Sunday. The first is a $163 no limit hold'em "Knockout." I've never played a tournament like this before and I'm really looking forward to it. The tournament plays just like an normal tournament except that for every player you eliminate you win cash on the spot. I think it will be something like $20 for every player you knock out meaning of the $163 I buy in for $13 goes to the house, $130 goes to the general prize pool and $20 goes to the player who knocks me out. It should be fun.

The next tournament is the $535 FTOPS main event which has a 2 million dollar guaranteed prize pool. Finally I've decided to throw in the $215 Pokerstars Sunday Million. I may also play the $215 Pokerstars Sunday Warm up and/or the $215 Pokerstars Sunday Second Chance. If I do so I'll be including those tournaments as part the series, meaning my backers for all of the fulltilt and Lucky Chances tournaments will have a piece of that action as well. If you're a backer and you have any objections (I can't imagine why you would) just let me know before Sunday and I'll count you out. There's also a 10% chance that I might play one of the other remaining tournaments on fulltilt, but right now it doesn't seem likely. By the way I'm wes1279 on fulltilt not ACESEDAI so if you want to watch from your computer you can find my by searching for that username. The action starts at 11 am pacific and I'll recap all of it on Monday.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tournament Recaps

Sorry again for the major laziness on my part in updating the blog. I know those of you that have financial interest in my results are probably very interested in knowing what's been happening.

I'll start with what's been going on at Lucky chances. On Wednesday I played the $550 NL tournament. I arrived at the casino feeling good about my chances since I'd done so well the previous day. My first interesting had came about 45 minutes into the tournament with the blinds were 50/75. I was in the big blind with K6 when three players called in the field as did the small blind.

The flop came down K 9 2 and I thought there was a good chance I had the best had, but against so many opponents it was hard to be sure. I considered betting but decided to check. An aggressive player bet about half the pot and I was the only player to call. The turn was another 9, I checked again and my opponent bet about half the pot again. I knew she was a little loose so she could have a wide range of hands and I also knew she was a thinking player that could lay down a fairly strong hand if she thought she was behind. I decided to move all in since that would be exactly what I would do if I had a 9. I also knew that if she had a king it wasn't AK, KQ, or KJ since she would have raised those hands preflop meaning if a A, K, Q, J or 9 came on the river I get half the pot if she also had a K. I figured it was more likely she had a pair between 33 and 88. She thought for about 5 seconds and then called me with 96. At first I thought to myself "why the hell did you do that," but upon further reflection I think it was an OK play if not a good one.

On Friday I went back to Lucky Chances to play the $550 shootout. In the first hour and a half I won one pot and it was because I stole the blinds preflop. In fact I didn't even play a hand to the flop during that entire time because my cards were so bad. Then I picked up AK suited and was first to act. I raised, the big blind moved all in and I called. I was happy to get some action with by far the best hand I'd seen all day, but I was unhappy to see my opponent turn over AA! I was only about 7% to win and I didn't catch a miracle.

While it sucked to go out early twice in a row, that's actually not the worst possible result. Going out just short of the money is much more time consuming and painful than going broke in the initial stages. Because of my misfortune I managed to dodge the rush hour traffic and enjoy the rest of my day, so it wasn't all bad.

On Wednesday after I went broke I came home and played in the $216, 6 handed NL event on Fulltilt. I was lucky to start at a table with a bunch of weak players. It seemed like every time I reraised them they folded. Not surprisingly I started to do a lot more reraising even with marginal hands. I've forgotten any interesting hands along the way, but I know when I made they money (yay!) I had about an average sized chip stack.

A short while later I had slightly less than average with about 20,000 chips. The blinds were 800/1,600 and I open raised to 4,800 with AJ suited. The player in the blind blind moved all in for something like 30,000 and I decided to take a chance. I could have folded, but in order to go really deep I needed much more than I had. Hoping to see a pair below jack I called. My opponent showed a pair of tens which meant I was just shy of 50% to win. Sadly the tens held up and I was out. I finished in about 250th out of more than 3,600 which paid $375.

I'm out of blogging time, but I'll have more recaps soon. Tomorrow (Sunday) I have the $1,000 event at Lucky Chances. Wish me luck.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Massive Blog slacking!

Sorry about my lack of tournament updates! I'll have a recap of the three tournaments that I've played since my last post as well as the one I'll be playing tonight, sometime tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A New Series of Tournaments

Today I started a new series of medium sized multitable poker tournaments. Actually it's more like two series. The first set is a group of 4 tournaments at Lucky Chances Casino in Colma CA the first of which ($330 NL Hold 'em) I played today (Tuesday). There is also a $550 NL hold 'em (Wednesday), a $550 NL hold 'em shoot out (Friday) and a $1,060 NL hold 'em (Sunday).

The second set is similar to the WCOOP but is on another website, namely fulltiltpoker.com. I plan on playing 6-8 of the 16 tournaments in that series in the $215-$1060 range. Some of these events are on the same day as the in person events, but happen much later in the day. So if I go broke early in person I can come home and play, but hopefully I won't be able to. :) I've given myself a $4,000 bankroll for both sets combined and I've sold off a little bit of my action to a few select backers.

So what happened in the $330 event from today? Well we started with 204 players, 3,000 chips, blinds at 25/50 and 20 minute levels. I have to say that this was not a great structure. In person 20 minute levels means 10-12 hands per level which meant this was in effect a turbo tournament.

I folded just about every hand for the first hour or so and then managed to pick up a few small pots without ever having to show a hand. I quickly grouped my opponents into two categories: players who I knew weren't any good and players who didn't seem very good but had yet to make it perfectly clear that they sucked. From the start I liked my chances.

After two hours of play the blinds went up to 200/400 with a 50 chip ante and I found myself with about 7,500 chips in the small blind. The player on the button raised to 1,600 and I thought to myself "If I look down at anything here I'm moving all in." It just felt like a bullshit raise to me so when I looked at my first card and it was a king I moved all in without looking at my other card. The big blind folded and after about 5 seconds of thought so did the raiser. It turned out my other card was a 7, but I didn't look until I was already stacking the chips.

On the very next hand the same player raised, but this time he moved all in for about 8,000. I looked down at AQ and quickly called. When the cards got turned over my opponent showed A9. I flopped a Q so I didn't even have to sweat it and took down a nice pot. With about 70 players remaining, I was in great shape with about 20,000 chips while the average stack was around 9,000.

I fluctuated a little, but found myself with that same 20,000 chip stack a few hours later when the blinds had ballooned to 1,000/2,000 with a 300 chip ante. In the big blind with KJ I faced a tough decision when the player one off the button moved all in for about 9,000. I wasn't thrilled with my hand or the prospect of risking a big chunk of my stack, but after counting down the pot and seeing that I was getting better than 2 to 1 on my money I decided to call. When I showed my cards, my opponent proudly turned over AJ. Yuck! I called out "Put queen, ten, nine out there." I didn't get my wish, but the flop I got was just as good- A Q T! I'd flopped a straight! After winning that pot my stack was over 30,000 chips and we were down to about 30 players.

As we got close to the money I made a play that took balls of steel. With about 25 players left (18 spots paid) and blinds still at 1,000/2,000 I was in the big blind again. The player on the button (who was talking up a storm at all times) raised to 5,000, went silent, and stared at the table. This was as good as a neon sign that said "I Do Not Have a Good Hand!" I told myself that if I looked at anything good at all I was moving all in even though my opponent was one of only two players at my table who had more chips than me. When I checked my cards I saw that I'd been dealt 9 3! ACK! That's about as bad as it gets, but after about 10 seconds I moved all in anyway. My opponent quickly folded, I took down a fair sized pot, and felt a wave of satisfaction come over me. In the past in situations like this I would think to myself "If I was a better player I'd probably move all in here," while I folded. But lately I've been playing with a fearless attitude and my results have been great.

When the player in 19th place went down I was in the money and guaranteed a payout of $600 gross. I'd run my stack up to about 50,000 chips while the average stack was around 35,000 at that point. We quickly lost 3 more players and my payday was guaranteed to be at least $800. With the blinds were 2,000/4000 with a 500 chip ante I ran into a major speed bump. I raised to 12,000 with KJ, the player in the big blind moved all in for a total of 24,000, and I was forced to call even though I was pretty sure I was behind. Unfortunately, my opponent had AA and I didn't manage to catch a miracle.

My stack slipped even further as I slowly got blinded off. The blinds went up to 3,000/6,000 with a 1,000 chip ante and I found myself with 19,000 chips and two more hands before I would be forced to take the big blind. I was looking for just about anything to move all in with, but instead of finding anything, I got dealt 8 5 and then 2 4. Yuck! In the big blind with a third of my chips already in the pot I called a raise with A 7. Sadly my opponent had A9 and I was eliminated. :(

I played a great tournament and did surprisingly well considering the crappy cards I got dealt. I got AK twice and AQ once, but I never got a pair above 88. I finished in 11th place which paid $1,040. I would have like to make the final table, but this was still a pretty good way to start my November tournaments. Tomorrow I have the $550 NL at Luck Chances which starts at 10:15 am. At 6 pm there is a $216 (that's not a typo, they charge and extra dollar in juice at fulltilt) 6-handed NL hold'em online which I should be able to make barring a money finish in person. I'll let you know what happened.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Beating the Bad Players and the Good Ones

On Thursday I woke up and played some 6 handed $5/$10 limit hold'em. There is a very lengthy, but interesting reason why I was doing that which I will save for another post. It started off going fine, but after about 2 hours I was stuck about $500. Crap!

Instead of pressing on I decided to switch to playing a few multitables. After 45 minutes or so I was in 6 tournaments, 3 of which ended much more quickly than I would have liked. The remaining 3 were: a $55 tournament that started with 1,200 entrants, an $11 tournament (one of the quicker ones with 10 minute limits) with 883 entrants and a $55 plus rebuys tournament with 206 entrants.

In the $55 I made the money and with 60 or so players left I was eliminated because of a misclick! Oops! I was playing the other two tournaments which were going well and somehow I accidentally clicked on a button which put me all in with a hand I never would have played. I had about 20,000 chips which was about a third of average and the first player to act raised to 12,000. The window of that game popped into the foreground just as I was moving my mouse across the action buttons and BOOM, I was all in with K2! ACK!

Given the situation I wasn't in terrible shape. My opponent had A5 giving me about a 35% chance to win the pot, but I didn't manage to pull it out. I still made a net profit of something like $200 on that tournament and I was a long ways away from the final table so it wasn't a disaster.

In the $11 tournament I was doing well early and then ran into some trouble which left me very short stacked with about 90 players left as we were getting close to the money. With blinds of 400/800 and a 50 chip ante I was down to 3,600 chips and first to act. Rather than go through the blinds and lose a third of my already tiny stack I decided to move all in with Q3 suited. I expected to get called and probably lose, but it was only an $11 tournament so who cares?

In fact I did get called, and by TWO players. But I flopped a Q which was enough to drag the pot and give me a fair sized stack of about 12,000 chips. From there it was a massive turbo to the top. I doubled up to 25,000 chips when I beat KQ with 99. Then I busted a player with about 10,000 chips who played KJ against my AQ. A few hands later I went from 35,000 to 70,000 with QQ vs AT.

I'd increased my stack by a factor of 20 in less than 20 hands! I sat on a stack around 70,000 chips for about the next 50 hands occasionally scooping in the blinds and eventually caught another break when someone went all in with 77 against my 88. When we got down to two tables I had my stack up to over 130,000 and was in first place. I went to work stealing blinds and was certain I was going to the final table. While the prizes at the top didn't have my mouth watering (after all the entire prize pool was only $8,830) anything higher than 5th would wipe out the $500 cash game loss from earlier in the day.

With 20 players left I busted someone else. I got a little too aggressive with KQ and was lucky to find myself against TT and not AK or AQ. I was even luckier to hit a Q and win the pot. Now I was up over 200,000 and in one of my favorite situations - I had twice as many chips as the player in 2nd place!

With about 15 players left the other players caught up a bit, but not for long. On consecutive hands I eliminated a player with TT vs A8 and another with JJ vs KQ. As we cruised into the final table I felt like I was in complete control with almost a third of the chips in play in my stack.

The final table went by in a blur. Myself and one other player were chopping down our opponents left and right. We went from 9 players to 4 in ELEVEN HANDS! That is unheard of. My main opponent and I each had over 500,000 chips while the other two players had less than 100,000 so it was only a matter of time until we squashed them. About 15 hands later one player finished in 4th earning a little over $600 and he was soon followed by the third place finisher who got paid $800.

Now there were just two of us. 1st place was $2,200 and 2nd was $1225 so we were playing for about $1,000. I knew I was much better than my opponent and never tempted to offer a deal. Heads up play lasted about 20 hands and I feel like I didn't win a single pot (I'm sure I won a little one in there somewhere). Whatever my opponent needed he got. He was playing literally every hand and kept hitting monsters. If he was any good at all he could have busted me 4 times before he actually did. On the final hand I had AQ against his A5 and he flopped two fives!

From the time there were 25 player left I felt like I was going to win this one, but I can't be upset about how I played and certainly not about making over 100 times my buy in!

But that's not the end of the story! I was still in the $55 with rebuys. Everyday pokerstars has a $109 with rebuys and a $55 with rebuys that start at 11:15 and 12:15 respectively. The thing about rebuy tournaments is they are much bigger than the initial buy in would suggest. Anytime you get below a certain chip count you can "rebuy" more chips so if you want to be competitive you're looking at at least a $309 commitment (some players spend well over $1,000 in an effort to accumulate chips) to play the first tournament and at least $155 for the second.

What happens is there are 50+ online tournament pros or very serious players who play both of these tournaments every day. While there are tons of big buy in SNGs and cash games, it's hard to find big buy in multitables during the week with enough players to make the prize pool really interesting. These two fit the bill and draw some excellent players. If you're on the west coast and a multitable pro you set your alarm for 11 am (one of the perks of the job is sleeping in late every day) and play both every day. The point is while I was no doubt one of the top 2 or 3 players of the 883 in the $11 tournament, I was probably only in the top 25 of 206 in this one, and there weren't too many players who sucked.

I struggled through the whole tournament. When we got to the top 27 I was thrilled to just make the money (which was about $260 gross - I was in for $155). I was playing the final table of the $11 tournament not really paying attention and I saw we were down to 18 which added another $100+ to my prize. Great!

I was in 11th place with 13 players left when I caught a huge break. The blinds were 2500/5000 with a 250 ante and I got dealt A7. I moved all in for about 60,000 and instantly regretted it. This was just a little too aggressive. I got called by JJ and found myself only about 30% to win. Amazingly I hit an A on the turn and found myself with an average sized stack.

I was still around average with 140,000 chips when we made it to the final table. On the very first hand of the final table with blinds still at 2500/5000 I was in the big blind with 55. The first player to act raised to 13,000 (a weird amount) and I decided to call. The flop came down 8 6 2 and while I'd considered checking and folding I decided instead to bet out 20,000. I figured if my opponent (who started the hand with about 95,000 chips) had big cards he'd fold and if he had an over pair he'd raise.

But he just called. The turn brought a miracle - one of the two remaining 5's in the deck giving me almost certainly the best hand. I checked feeling 95% sure my opponent would move all in and that's just what he did. I confidently called expecting to see something like TT, 99 or even AK. Instead I saw 96 of clubs? What? Then I saw that the 5 on the turn was a club and the 8 on the flop was a club! Yikes! I was expecting to be a total lock to win and instead I had to dodge a 7 or a club to win the pot. Guess what the river was...the 7 of clubs making my opponent a straight flush! Crap!

I was down to 45,000 and in last place. 9th paid $650, but moving up just one more spot was worth another $500 and the spot above that was worth another $500. I was determined to survive long enough for at least one person to go broke. I stole the blinds a few times and then the player in the small blind moved all in with K9 when I had A9 in the big blind. I managed to win that one and was out of immediate danger.

It took almost 50 hands for the first player to go broke at the final table! What an amazing contrast to the $11 tournament where 5 players went broke in 11 hands and the whole final table only took a little more than 50 hands!

This table plodded along for what felt like forever. I never really managed to pick up much in the way of chips, but I didn't go south either. The other players were playing plenty of hands, but many of the confrontations were going the wrong way.

We have to go to dinner soon, so I'm going to sum up. By the time we made it down to 5 players I only had 80,000 chips while everyone else had 200,000 plus. I went broke in 5th, but didn't feel the least bit bad about it. 5th place paid a sweet $2,750!!!!

Another amazing day to go on top of a crazy fantastic month. I am playing some great poker lately and I'm hoping I can keep up anything even close to what I've been doing for the past 7 weeks. It's like every time I get 5 times as many chips as I started with I take it to the final table. I should not be this easy to keep chewing thorough these big fields and I know I'm just running super hot right now. Either that or I'm one of the best players in the world and I just somehow put it all together last month. Let's hope that's it. :)

Anyway, I kick ass. I'm taking 3 days off in row before getting back to work on Monday.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Final Table Action!!!

There is more EXCELLENT news in this post. Even though it's long, it's a must read for anyone interested in my poker exploits.

On Saturday I decided to play a few multitables. I'm just about on pace to reach my points goals for the end of the year and earn my $3,000 bonus. I've found a way to earn points at a much faster rate, but I'll explain all that in a future post. So while I had planned on Saturday being a full work day, it turned into watching college football and playing multitable tournaments on my laptop.

One of the tournaments was a heads up matches tournament. The way these tournaments work is everyone is split up into tables of two players. Those two players play one on one (or heads up as we say in the poker world) until one of them goes bust. Once every table is left with just one player, the remaining players are matched up and they do it all over again. This continues until you're left with one player. Essentially it works just like a tennis tournament where the winner of each match moves on and the loser is eliminated.

The tournament I played started with 230 players (meaning 26 random players got a free pass through the first round) and had a $22 buy in. I've played about a half dozen of these tournaments in the past week and while they're not for big bucks they've given me a chance to brush up on my heads up play.

In order to make the money you need to win 3 matches and make it to the round of 32 which pays something like $45 ($23 net). I won each of my first 3 matches in about 50 hands which takes about 15 minutes. My 4th match took about 25 minutes, which felt like forever, but I won and I was up to $61 in prize money with 16 players left. In my next match, about 10 hands in I got dealt QQ, my opponent got dealt 55 and all the money went in before the flop. He didn't catch a miracle, we were down to 8 players and my guaranteed prize money was up to $161.

I wasn't expecting to make much playing this tournament, but all of a sudden it was getting interesting. Making it to the top 4 was worth $370 and there was more prize money beyond that. Up to this point my opponents were fairly passive and with the exception of the player who went broke against my pocket queens I was able to gradually grind them down before eliminating them. In the round of 8 my opponent was super aggressive. He was making big raises and reraises on almost every hand and I knew I'd need to catch a big hand to beat him.

We started every match with 1,500 chips each and 10 minute limits. In the second limit with blinds of 15/30 I was down to 1250 chips when he raised to 120 from the small blind. I made it 300 to go with AT and he just called. The flop came down T 5 2. I bet something like 250 and he moved all in. I quickly called, he showed 56, I won the pot and he was down to 500 chips. Since I now had a 5 to 1 chip advantage it was easy to finish him off and I was in the top 4.

I have no idea what happened in the round of 4 match, but I know that I won. HA! We were down to the final table which this time was a final table of 2. Second place paid $690 and first place paid $1242 so I was about to play a heads up match (against someone who had also just won 7 straight matches to get to that point) for $552 dollars. Before we even started I suggested that we split the remaining prize money. My opponent (BIGsexy85777 was his name) suggested that we each take $866 and play for the remaining $200. This sounded perfect to me.

Once we e-mailed support and got someone to the table to arrange our deal it was time to play it out. Close to 10 minutes in, with blinds at 10/20, Bigsexy raised to 60 from the small blind. I called out of the big blind with 64 suited (you have to play a wide range of hands against just one player). The flop came down 7 5 4 giving me a pair of fours and an open ended straight draw. I bet out 120 expecting to win the pot right there, but Bigsexy called. The turn was an ace and I checked. He bet out 200 and I called hoping to make my straight. The river was another 4 which was perfect because I was almost sure to have the best hand and it didn't look as scary as a card that would make my straight. I figured I'd get some action and I did. I checked hoping my opponent would bet and that's just what he did. It wasn't a big bet, but he was running low on chips and when I moved all in he was forced to call. He had A6 for one pair, I had trip fours and it was all over.

Add another notch to the tournament win belt and another $1,066 to the coffers!

But that is not the real good news. I can hear you all thinking now "(Gasp!) You mean there's something more significant that happened to you this weekend." Yes there is, and here's the story.

I was planning to take Sunday off to watch football, but I've been doing so well and having so much fun playing lately that I decided to take a shot at a few multitables on the laptop again. I had 4 or 5 duds, but the last tournament I signed up went MUCH better. It was a $55 no limit hold'em tournament that went off with 1,206 entrants.

About an hour and a half into the tournament I had tripled my starting stack of 3,000 to over 9,000 when I had some internet troubles. Something funky was happening the the cable modem and even after restarting everything I still couldn't connect. So I used the highly advanced technique that I learned studying engineering at Berkeley - I unplugged everything to "let it rest." Sure enough 10 minutes later when I plugged everything back in, I was able to get back on.

The prize money started at 135th place and with 137 players left I was faced with a tough decision. I had 35,000 chips (average was about 26,000), the blinds were 500/1000, I was in the big blind and the player in the button raised to 3,000. I called with KT of hearts and the flop came down Q J 5 with 2 hearts. I had an open ended straight draw and a flush draw and one over card. While I didn't have anything yet, I'd hit something about 55% of the time. I considered betting but decided to check. My opponent bet out 4,000 and I just called. The turn was a blank and I check called 8,000. The river was another blank and we both checked. My opponent turned over Q9 and won the pot.

When that hand was over, I felt like a real wuss. My opponent had about 2,000 fewer chips than I did and after he bet on the flop or the turn, and all in raise would have been a great play for me to make. Two spots out of the money I can't imagine he'd have called with Q9 if I'd put him to the test and I really felt like I'd missed out on some chips. I vowed to play better, and more aggressively for the remainder of the tournament.

But a minute or two later I was in the money and still had enough of a stack to work with. I was starting to fade and as we got down to about 80 players, I had 18,000 chips while the average stack had shot up to 45,000. Then I caught a nice break. One player raised to 6,000 and another moved all in for 25,000. I called with AK and the first player folded. I flopped a K, beat my opponent who had JJ and was up to about average.

I've forgotten exactly how it happened, but I made some big hands, got some action and by the time we were down to 45 players I was in first place! I suppose that's a lot to gloss over, but it's not like this is a short post!

The next key hand came up with just under 40 players left. Average was close to 100,000 and I still had more chips than anyone in the tournament with about 275,000. The blinds were 2500/5000 and the player who was in second place with about 250,000 chips raised to 15,000. Another player made it 30,000 to go and I was on the button with QQ - the third best possible starting hand.

By my estimation, I've played about 1.5 million hands of hold'em in the past 7 years which means I've been dealt QQ about 7,000 times. I could probably count the number of times I've folded QQ before the flop on one hand (I've never once folded AA or KK before the flop). Up until this year I never would have even considered it. But in this case, I just couldn't think of anything that the player who made it 30,000 could have except for AA or KK. I decided to trust my read and I folded.

The initial raiser immediately went all in and the other player instantly called. The player who had almost as many chips as me had KK and the other player had AA! If I'd called or reraised the player with KK surely would have raised again. The flop was all cards below ten and I'm certain I would have lost almost all of my chips had I decided to play. Folding this hand made me literally thousands of dollars.

I was still in first place and that's pretty much where I stayed as players started dropping. I wasn't making any huge hands, but I was stealing blinds left and right and the other players were letting me walk all over them.

Unfortunately, when we were down to around 14 or 15 players I hit a major speed bump. I lost half of my chips with KK against AQ. ACK! I think I've mentioned recently that in order to go really deep, just about everything has to go perfectly. I figured this had was the beginning of the end for me. But it wasn't!

10th-18 paid $482. Which wasn't bad, but 9th paid $904, 8th paid $1,387 and it was up and up from there. It seemed like everyone had plenty of chips compared to the blinds and I felt like it was going to take forever to make it to the final table. Luckily the players acting just after me were very tight so I was able to do plenty of raising without anyone playing back at me. This kept me afloat.

We made it down to 9 players, and then 8 and then 7. I was guaranteed $1,989 and had a stack that was just about average at that point. There were 3,600,000 chips in play and the two players to my right each had about 1,000,000. The reaming 5 of us all had between 200,000 and 400,000 and were just trying to outlast each other.

Then something dramatic happened. One of the players with 1,000,000 chips busted the other by making a straight flush against the other player's top two pair! Now one player had 2,000,000 chips and the rest of us were way behind. But we were down to 6.

Luckily, the leading player was not any good at all. In fact someone who'd been eliminated earlier was talking smack in the chat box about how terrible he was. He should have been raising 75% of the hands at least since the rest of us were all sort of trying to wait each other out. 6th place paid $2,592 and moving up one more spot to 5th was worth another $600 which was about 11 times the initial buy in.

Another thing that was lucky was, he was just to my right, meaning he had to act just before me. I'd squeaked into second place with around 500,000 chips and every time he folded, I raised. Someone went broke in 6th and then another took home 5th place money ($3,196), but I wasn't involved in either elimination.

Now were were down to 4 and I was guaranteed at least $3,919. I had 500K, the player with 2 million still had the same amount and the remaining players had 300K and 800K. As soon as we were down to 4 the player with 800K started talking deal and he was pushing hard. He was saying things like "Any smart player would make a deal" and "we should really make a deal, should I call support?"

For once I wasn't really interested in a deal. I thought I was clearly the best player left, the worst player has almost all of the chips, and I'd be taking something like $2,000 more than 4th place money when I had a shot at much, much more. I told the guy pushing for the deal that I'd listen to the exact numbers, with the plan of only taking a deal if I could get much more than the equity of my chips was worth (ie I might take and extra $3,500 when my chips were only worth another $2,000).

The guy with 2,000,000 chips had no idea what was going on. The whole concept of a deal was foreign to him so even though it would have been in his best interest, he wasn't sure. The remaining player wasn't saying a word. I assumed it was because either he had his chat off or just wasn't interested. Upon later reflection I noticed that he was from a place called Kakalak so maybe he just didn't speak English. Regardless, there was no deal to be had.

So we played on. About 15 minutes and 30 hands passed without the chip stack changing much. Then the player with 300K doubled up through the player with 800K on one hand, and busted him a few hands later. We were down to 3 and I was guaranteed $5,306!

Then I caught a major break. The blinds were 20,000/40,000 and I was in the big blind with about 600,000 chips. The player who had been at 2 million chips for the past hour was still right around that level and in the small blind. He raised to about 300,000 which was really excessive given the size of the blinds. I think he was trying to make what was supposed to look like a strong move since I'd moved all in against some of his previous smaller raises. As it turns out this was perfect timing for me since I got dealt AA! I moved all in and he called me with KQ. He totally missed and I was up to about 1.2 million chips!

We were all relatively close and chip wise and I was looking good. The blinds went up to 25,000/50,000 and I found myself in the big blind with A8. The first player to act (the guy who wasn't saying anything) moved all in for about 1,000,000. This was certainly excessive, but this guy had shown that his only move was either all in or fold once we made it to the final table. A8 wasn't a great hand, but unless he had AA I'd have at least a 30% chance to win and it was likely I had the best hand.

So I called. This was a scary call, and I wasn't happy when he turned over 99. But, I was thrilled to see an ace on the flop! I managed to dodge a 9 on the turn and the river, we were down to 2 and I was up to 2.2 million chips! 2nd place was $8,140 and 1st was a whopping $13,869!

At this point I did the stupidest thing I possibly could have done. I offered the other player (who I knew what no good) a deal. I asked if he wanted to split the reaming prize money based on chip count. I just didn't want to play heads up for almost $6,000 no matter what the circumstances. I explained that we should both sit out and I would e-mail support to help us with the deal. He still wasn't sure but he agreed anyway.

While we were having this discussion, we were still playing. I'd raised to 150,000 with total garbage and he'd called me. The flop came down with a bunch of face cards and I was ready to give up on the hand. Then he clicked on sit out in the middle of the hand! The pot which was over 8% of the chips in play and worth almost $500 if we were going to split got shipped my way!

So here we are both sitting out waiting for support to show up (which usually takes 2-5 minutes) and after about 90 seconds I see that he's sitting back in again. What? Then he says "I don't understand what's going on, let's just play." I tell him that I've e-mailed support and when they get here they'll explain it to him but we can play until they show up.

So we play. On the 5th or 6th hand I pick up A9 in the big blind. The blinds are still 25,000/50,000 and he raises to 200,000. I move all in and he calls with QT of hearts making me 54% to win . Jen is sitting next to me and we're both calling for an ace. ACE! ACE! ACE! All I need is for him not to hit, but I'm thinking just put the f-ing ace out there and send me the money. The flop is all cards under 8 with one heart. So far so good. The turn is a heart and I feel deflated. I'm certain that I'm not going to survive the river. Now I need to dodge a Q, a T, or a heart. I just can't see missing all of those cards. I'll still be alive, but now if I make the deal I'll have lost thousands in equity.

Then the river comes out...and...it's a black deuce! SEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNDDD MEEEEEE THE MONEY BABY! $13,869!!!!!! DING DING DING DING DING!

This was an amazing win for me. I can't believe how well I've been doing lately. I also can't believe that I almost made a deal with that goon. I won a heads up tournament by winning 8 straight matches YESTERDAY! Why in the world would I make a deal when I've got a 5-2 chip lead, I've got my opponent totally outclassed, and my heads up game is a sharp as it's ever been? Very foolish of me, but in the end it makes for a much better story.

What a sweet win!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Worst Collapse Ever!

I'll get to the glory of Saturday in a second, but first I have to mention the total screw job I just got. And I have to warn you that this is a slightly profanity laden post. I took today off, but since I've been doing so well I decided to play a few small multitables. I played a $22 heads up matches, a normal $55 tournament, an $11 tournament with 10 minute limits and a $22 with rebuys.

The only one worth discussing is the $11. I totally dominated this piece of shit tournament the whole way though. We started with 1,103 players and by the time we were down to 100 players I was in first place. I stayed in first place all the way down to the point there were 10 players left. At one stage I was so far ahead that the player in second place had less than half as many chips as I did!

With 10 players left we were at two tables of 5 players, the blinds were 5000/10000 with a 1,000 ante and I had 350,000 chips. The first player to act who had about 100,000 made the minimum raise to 20,000. Normally the minimum raise could mean a big hand like AA or KK, but this player had been at my table and I'd seen him make raises like this before. I was in the big blind with QT and I decided to put him to the test. There was 35,000 already in the pot and I figured he's almost certainly fold in an effort to make the final table where the payouts get really big.

But he had KK and instantly called. I'd lost some chips but I was still in great shape with twice the average stack. On the next hand I was in the small blind and everyone folded to me. The big blind only had about 100,000 and the blinds had just gone up to 6000/12000 with a 1200 ante. I had Q5 which isn't much, but again figuring I would only get called by a premium hand I moved all in. My opponent instantly called with 55. Pocket fives? Really? That's enough to risk all of your chips?

I didn't manage to hit my Q and I lost another big chunk of chips. Meanwhile the guy who had the pocket fives had been talking smack to me for the past 20 minutes. I'd been raising frequently because that's what you do to accumulate chips when you're in the lead. He kept telling me to "slow down" and warning me that I was going to get caught stealing. I hadn't said anything or done anything other than just play aggressively. I can't remember exactly what he said after I lost that pot, but it was effectively ha ha you suck. And then a few other people joined in! BASTARDS!

I was pissed about losing those two hands (and most of my chips) and while I very rarely type anything at all in the chat box I couldn't let these jokers razz me without a response. I was ready to start informing these mother fucking, $10, two bit players who they were dealing with. I was about to tell them that the first place prize in this tournament (which was $2,700) wasn't even my biggest win of the past 36 hours (there's a little foreshadowing). I was about to let them have it.

But, before I could type anything I picked up AQ. I moved all in and sure enough got called by AJ. I figured I'd be right back over 300,000 and in command again. I'd show these jerks what was what! And then a J came on the flop. Another one came on the turn and I was out. Crap!

From first to out in 3 hands! The dollars involved here weren't staggering. While first was $2,700 which is nothing to sneeze at 4th was about $700, 6th was less than $500 and 9th was only $65 more than the $99 I got for 10th place. But still. That was monumentally annoying and this wasn't one of those situations where I had no choice and would do the same thing over the same way 100 times in a row if given the chance. There were plenty of plays I could have made differently.

Very therapeutic to write out my frustrations. I feel better already.

On to the good news! To make a long story short, since it's late and I'm losing blogging motivation, I finished 4th in the Supernova freeroll on Saturday! I think I mentioned how great I played in the $55 tournament on Thursday and I can say that I played fabulous up until the last few hands in the $11 tournament I just mentioned. That was not exactly the case in the supernova tournament.

I didn't play poorly by any means, but I just got the most unbelievable run of cards that I can remember. About every 20 minutes I'd pick up a great hand and someone would move all in in front of me. Pocket queens in the big blind. Boom, someone moves all in with tens. Aces on the button. Someone with AK raises and calls my all in. Short stack in the big blind. My A3 beats their QJ. It was great. I feel like any average player could have made it to the final table with all the breaks I got.

The only hand where I dished out a major bad beat was (oddly enough given today's result) playing 10 handed at two tables of 5 (we started with 1,015 players). I was in the big blind with 170,000 chips (average was around 150,000) and I picked up Q8 suited. The blinds were 4000/8000 and the player in the small blind raised it to 24,000. He was an aggressive but sensible player who had about 100,000 chips total and while Q8 was not much of a hand I decided to move all in. This is a spot where the cards were not particularly relevant and it was the situation, not the cards that dictated that I move all in.

Believe it or not almost everyone plays about as tight as you could imagine when you only need to lose one more to make the final table. Even though those schmucks were calling me down left and right today, I was about 75% sure this guy would be folding. But he had a real hand, AQ. I was in bad shape and looking like I was going to be in last place chip wise and then...BING! 8 ON THE FLOP! I was in 1st place and we were down to 9.

I ran into pocked aces and lost half of my chips two or three hands later. But I played well and worked my way up and eventually finished in 4th. When I finally went broke I was in bad shape chips wise and all of the remaining players were very strong so I didn't feel the least bit bad about my finishing position. I won another $500+ playing SNGs while I was in the early stages of the supernova tournament so it turned out to be a $3,200+ day!!!

I've really been on a great run lately and I wish I could take a few days off to enjoy myself, but it's back to the grind tomorrow! Those FPPs won't generate themselves!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Heartbreak and Redemption

Until Thursday I'd managed to avoid being seduced by the potential huge money of multitables for the first 10 days of October. While I've certainly had some strong finishes lately, in order to get my $3,000 year end bonus I need to focus on generating frequent player points and multitables are the absolute worst way to earn points.

On Thursday morning as I started my day, in words similar to those spoken by addicts everywhere I told myself, "I'll just play one!" I jumped into "The Daily Fifty Grand" a tournament that guarantees a fifty thousand dollar prize pool, has a $55 buy in and starts with double the starting chips. The tournament went off at noon with 1,184 players and 3,000 chips.

I was playing 5 SNG's at the same time as this tournament so I wasn't really concerned that nothing happened during the first hour. Shortly after the first break I won a few pots and had my stack up to about 8,000 (most of the details of this tournament are pretty much gone in my head since it was a few days ago now so excuse my vague recap). I cruised along for a while at about that level and then I lost most of my chips with AQ against AK. I was down to a little over 2,000 with blinds at 200/400 with a 25 chip ante and feeling like I was dead.

In order to go really deep in a tournament everything has to go almost perfectly. In big tournaments that I've won or made final tables it seems like I've won every major confrontation the whole way through. That was not the case in this tournament. I was up and then down and then up again. I ran my stack up to 50,000 when average was 20,000 and then I was back down to 15,000. Then I was up to 80,000 when average was 40,000 and then back down to 25,000. I was sure I was on my way out four or five times, but then I'd slowly work my way back up. Sometimes you get such good cards that there's almost no way you could mess it up. This was not one of those tournaments. I felt like I was fighting for every chip.

As the players dropped and we got down to a few tables I had a great chance to make the final table. With 1st place over $12,000 and 8th or higher paying at least $1,000 I had my eye on a big pay day. With 36 players left the average stack was just under 100,000 chips and I had over 170,000.

I stayed right at that level, just stealing enough blinds to stay where I was until we were down to two tables. Then I started to fade a little. The blinds were up to 6000/12000 with a 1200 chip ante and I was at an aggressive table. A few people dropped, but so did the number of chips I had and when we were down to 14 players the blinds went up to 8000/16000. I knew it would be time to make a move soon.

The average stack had ballooned to over 250,000 and I was down to about 120,000 feeling like I would need a big break to make the final table. In fact it felt a little hopeless. There didn't seem to be too many week points at my table and no one was particularly short stacked.

Then I picked up KK in the big blind! AH HA! The buttoned raised to 40,000 and I hit him with a small reraise to 72,000. He could have just about anything raising from the button and I thought there was a chance he might fold if I just moved all in. I had the second best possible starting hand and I wanted action.

My opponent just called and the flop came down J 9 8. I moved all in for my remaining 50,000 or so chips and after almost no thought my opponent called. He turned over QJ which meant I was ahead, but I needed to dodge a Q a J or a T (I was 67.7% to win at this point) in order to win. The turn was an 8 which was a great card because it meant that I no longer needed to worry about a Q beating me (I was 86.4% to win at this point). Then the river came down a J! SHIT! I was out in 14th place and left muttering F-Bombs under my breath for 10 minutes.

I won $320 for my efforts which is pretty good. But when you finish 14th out of 1184 you'd like to have more to show for it. For the average player they could expect to do that well or better only 1 time in 85 and to only profit 6 times the initial buy in kind of sucks. I don't think there's anything wrong with the payout schedule, but despite what it seems like in the past two months, these opportunities don't come along every day. It's heartbreaking to be so close to thousands of dollars and only come away with a few hundred. Especially when you were 86% to win a big pot with one card to come. BASTARDS!

The good news is that was the heartbreak and there is a story of redemption from today. The bad news is I'm going to leave it as a bit of a cliff hanger! HA HA! Take that loyal readers! I can see you all now feverish checking for updates, clicking on refresh every 5 minutes, desperate to hear my story of redemption. You people need help! Anyway I'll give you the good news from today in my next post which should be up sometime tomorrow (no waiting for you Monday morning at work readers!).

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SNG Recovery

I was feeling a little disappointed after my somewhat slow start to my 4,000 SNG (in three months) challenge. After the first week I was about even. A week is barely a blip in the long run of a professional poker player's career, but I felt like I'd been playing great.

The past two days I've turned things around. I won close to $600 yesterday and a just shy of $1,100 today over the course of about 95 tournaments total. Of course I caught a few breaks, but in the past month or two I've felt like my play has been great. I've gone back to the fearless style that served me so well in the past and the results speak for themselves.

The turning point was a book that I read that was geared specifically towards online SNG play. The great thing about this book is it would be way over the heads of most people shopping for poker books! Happily it was perfect for me. It confirmed that 90% of what I've been doing was right, allowed me to bring a few things into focus and add one or two plays to my game.

I'm 8.1% of the way to my goal having played 325 tournaments in 9 days. I'm a little behind where I wanted to be at this point in terms of tournaments played, but I'm ahead of where I wanted to be in terms of winnings. I'd be happy with anything around $3 a tournament, but so far I'm winning $5.19 per. That might not sounds like much, but it would be over $20,760 in three months not including FPPs or the bonus that I'm working towards. Hopefully I can keep up the winning ways.

Monday, October 08, 2007

WBCOOP

No that's not a typo. The WCOOP is over but the WBCOOP (World Blogger Championship Of Online Poker) is going off on this Saturday. This is a freeroll for anyone who has a blog that's at least 2 months old and posted to regularly. Pokerstars is putting up $40,000 in cash and prizes and in return the bloggers have to earn their entry by doing a little advertising. In order to get my entry ticket I have to copy a piece of code onto my blog which produces the following message and graphic:

Texas Holdem Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 9580085






Since you must have a blog to get into this tournament almost all of the best players will be shut out. I expect the field to be populated with a slew of novices, weak players and buffoons. If you have a blog I'd highly recommend checking out the sign up instructions and take a shot at the tournament. After all it's not going to cost you anything and if you're reading this post, you probably have some interest in poker and blogs. Good luck and if anyone needs me to point them in the direction of some basic multi table strategy I should be able to help. Also if you're going to play keep in mind that 3 pm is 3pm eastern time.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The First Few Days of My 4,000 SNG Challange

In the first 4 days of my quest to play 4,000 SNG's by the end of the year I've managed to play 210 tournaments, with sub par results. I started out as badly as I possibly could have, turned around spectacularly and then went down the toilet again.

One major positive aspect of starting a new day, a new month and a new long term project is it's easier to think long term. Knowing that no matter how bad your start is there's still plenty of time to turn it around can allow you to brush off some early losses. But there is a limit to how far you can go with that attitude.

I started off day on Monday with 12 straight out of the money finishes, then one first, and then another 11 straight out of the money. This is arguably the worst run I've ever had (I had a run of 23 tournaments out of the money in 2004, but those were 10 player tournaments so it was marginally less likely for me to make they money and they were $55 buy in instead of $60) I won a pot here and there, but whenever all my chips went in I lost. I dropped about $1,200 in the first 3 hours of my day and was not looking forward to playing anymore.

But I trudged on and my results improved drastically. After a few thirds and a few more duds, I had a run where I had 5 first and 2 seconds in a span of 8 tournaments. In fact (including those) I won 8 tournaments outright in a stretch of 18 tries. That is one of my best runs ever and I actually ended up winning about $200 for the day!

The next two days were both solid. I won about $900 on Tuesday and after losing all day a little rush at the end left me a $400 winner on Wednesday.

Then I flushed it all today. I had a run that was EVEN WORSE than the run I had on Monday! Over 27 tournaments I only had two money finishes and they were both 3rds. That streak cost me a little over $1,400. What a load of shit! This time there wasn't a monster run of first place finishes to get me back in the black.

The optimist in me is thrilled that I had what I think are the two worst runs of SNG luck that I've ever had (In 4 years of online poker!) in a four day span and still managed to win about $100. I also picked up a few hundred dollars in FPPs and of course I'm a little more than 5% of the way to earning what I need to pick up that $3,000 year end bonus.

The pessimist in me is pissed that I was on my way to a great week and am now pretty much even. My confidence which was building nicely took a major blow and even though I played 210 tournaments I had been planning on playing at least 30 or 40 more during these past four days. With Thanksgiving and Christmas looming large at the end of the year I'm going to have to dig deep and find some mental strength somewhere in order to collect the points I need.

Luckily, after kicking ass in September (my best month since February 2006 and my third best month ever) the reserves have been replenished so barring a massive collapse I shouldn't be feeling any money pressure for at least a few months.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The End of the 2007 WCOOP

I played quite a few Satellites to the $2,600 main event today and unfortunately didn't have any luck. I played three $80 double shootouts, an 8,000 FPP buy in event where pokerstars added 9 seats (worth $23,400) to the prize pool, the $320 mega super satellite where they guaranteed 100 seats, and a few other small buy in satellites. None of them produced even a whisper of a possibility of getting into the main event.

The only good news of the day was I did manage to get into the $320 satellite via an $11 with rebuys satellite. They run satellites to satellites? Of course they do! In fact in you're trying to get into the $10,000 main event of the WSOP the satellites start at $2! I think from the $2 tournament you can win a seat in a $33 tournament which leads to a $600 tournament which gives away seats to the $10,000 event. Sounds easy right?

You could also take the $2 bet it on a specific number on a roulette wheel, say 16. If you hit you'd win $72. If you then let it ride on 16 and hit again you'd be up to $2,592. Then you could bet $288 on 9 different numbers and if you hit again you'd have enough to pay the $10,000 entry fee and $368 for expenses. All from $2! Who wants to go to Vegas? Now that we have a system we're sure to win!

The bottom line is even with the 11 with rebuys win I dropped $344 today in WCOOP related activities. There are still satellites running to the main event, but I think I'm going to call it a wrap. All in all I have to call the 2007 WCOOP a solid success. I played 6 main events and had two strong money finishes. I also felt like I did pretty well in the satellites although since I've just kept a running total of all my action I'm not sure what the exact break down was.

My net result for the WCOOP was a profit of $738. I had 57.5% of my own action so I ended up making $424 which I can say was probably not worth it given the effort I put in. But the experience was certainly worth something and I gave myself some good chances to put some serious dollars in the Huff coffers.

I now have 7 WCOOP cashes in 29 events over the past three years. 24% in the money in quite a few varieties of poker (I've played limit, NL, and pot limit hold 'em, HORSE, heads up matches, pot limit Omaha, limit Omaha hi/lo, 7 card stud, Razz, and 7 card stud hi/lo over the course of all 29 events) against the best online players in the world is something to be proud of.

So what now? Well even though I've had a nice run of multitable tournaments (which is what I enjoy doing to most pokerwise) I have to get back to the grind. So far this year I've earned 201,344 VPPs. VPPs aren't worth anything but are the way that pokerstars determines a player's VIP status (ie. gold, platinum, supernova etc). For making it over 200,000 VPPs pokerstars gave me a bonus of $2,000! If I make it to 300,000 before the end of the year I'll get another $3,000 bonus.

In order to earn the remaining 98,656 points that I need, I'll have to play 3,947, $60 SNGs (which is the equivalent points wise of 2,193 $109 SNGs, or 173,081 NL cash game hands). It seems like a lot, but it's doable. Unlike other goals that I've set for myself, this one has a major reward. I don't care what happens, I'm not blowing off three grand. Also playing 4,000 SNG's in a relatively short span should give me a precise idea how much I can make playing at that level so I can reevaluate my goals and plans for 2008. I'm hoping I can make this easy on myself by keeping a steady pace and not leave myself having to play $109 SNG's 8 at a time for 16 hours straight on December 31st (In case you were wondering that would be about 192 SNG's, that would generate 8,640 VPPs, 30,240 FPPs worth $482, make pokerstars $1,728 in juice and leave me brain dead for a week).

Since that's all I expect do be doing for the next three months, I don't expect to have any exciting news of big wins. Of course I'll still be playing my Saturday freerolls which might amount to something and I'll try to post from time to time to let you know how things are going.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today's WCOOP Event

I'm going to skip today's WCOOP event. For whatever reason, I couldn't sleep last night. It's never smart to play when you're really tired especially when you're looking at a long tournament. I know in the past I've made some really stupid plays wanting to either be done with a tournament or have so many chips that it was worth the discomfort that continuing to play was causing.

I'm not sure if I'm going to take the money I had earmarked for today and play more satellites or just add it to the locked up profit. I'll let you know what I decide.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Comment Response

In response to my horror story about the player at my table going broke in the first 3 minutes on Sunday's Event EB commented: "Out of curiosity, do you see yourself doing anything differently if you are either of those two players? (Except that if you'd been the player with the aces, of course the river would have been a non-pairing club).

Heres a recap of the hand if you've forgotten the details: Someone at my table went broke with AA vs KK on the third or fourth hand. We started with 15,000 chips and blinds of 25/50. One player raised to 130, the player with AA went to 230, and the player with KK made it 500. The initial raiser called, the player with AA made it 2,500 and got called by the player with KK. The flop came Q high with 3 clubs and they both had a club. All the money when in on the turn which happened to be a K.


I would have done a few things differently. First of all I would have made a slightly larger initial reraise if I was the player with the AA, going to maybe 350 instead of 230 and I would have gone a little bigger with the reraise if I was the player with KK also, but that's not really important. Since I didn't include them, let me fill in details of the remaining action. On the flop the player with AA bet 2,500 and got called and on the turn he went all in for 10,000 and got called.

The all in on the turn is a big mistake. When a player in front of you raises, you reraise, someone else raises again and then calls another BIG raise what they hell could they possibly have? Given that action and the fact that I already have AA if I'm that player, I'd put it at 70% KK, 15% QQ, 5% AA, 5% JJ, 4% AK, 1% all other hands.

So on the turn when the board has a K and a Q on it and your opponent called a bet on the flop what they hell can you beat? You have to hope that he's got JJ with the J of clubs or AK with the K of clubs, or the other two aces which are the only hands he could possibly have that you could beat. You wouldn't mind giving any of those hands a free card since you're a 22-1 favorite against the first two and freerolling against the other aces. On the other hand, in the extremely likely case that your opponent has KK or QQ you'd like to see the river for as little as possible to see if it's a non pairing club. It seemed painfully obvious that this was a case of AA vs KK or QQ to me.

In the actual hand if the player with AA had checked there's no way the player with top set and a second nut flush redraw would have gone all in. He'd probably bet something like 5,000 (or even something less like 3,000) and there's some chance (maybe 10%-15%) he might even check as a slow play. This would give the player with AA the chance to see the river and either win by hitting an ace or a club or survive with at least a third of his stack.

If the player with AA faces a bet of more than 5,000, the play would be to fold and preserve his chances. Of course it would be a tough, frustrating fold on the river (assuming he calls the turn) with an overpair (if he missed) when he'd put 2/3 of his stack in. But given the preflop and flop action, folding on the river would be the only reasonable play. Trusting your read in a spot like this can be difficult and most players let their emotions come into play too much. They get attached to those aces and forget that they're just a pair.

I just put up this hand because it sucks to go broke with AA so early, but it's actually a very interesting hand.

WCOOP Event #14 Recap

I started off yesterday playing a few cash tournaments and two WCOOP satellites to the day's $1,050 event. The WCOOP satellites were both very low risk, high reward tournaments. One was an $8 with rebuys and one was a $2 with rebuys. But both had 5 minute limits and rebuys for 12 levels (this is contrary to most turbo rebuy tournaments which have rebuy periods lasting only 6 levels).

I thought it would be fun to try the crazy loose strategy with very little money on the line, but when the time came, I couldn't do it. I certainly played looser than normal, but I couldn't just fling my chips in there with nothing hoping to get lucky since I've spent 7 years training myself to do otherwise.

Despite that fact, I started off kicking major ass. We got 2,000 for each buy in and rebuy and 4,000 for the add on in both tournaments. In the $2 I needed to finish in the top 5 of 611 and in the $8 I needed to finish in the top 6 of 312. At one point I had over 150,000 chips in both tournaments simultaneously! This put me in second chip position in the $8 and about 10th in the $2. I was thinking that it would be one of the greatest achievements of my poker career if I could win two, $1,050 seats in tournaments that I got into for $10 and $25.

But anytime you have 5 minute limits things move so quickly that it becomes a bit of a crapshoot. In the $2 with 60 people left the blinds were up to 10,000/20,000 with a 2,000 ante. I moved in for 120,000 with KQ, got called by AT and lost.

The $8 was more of a heart breaker. With 16 players left (needing to make it to 6th to win) I was in third place (there were many fewer chips in play in the $8 since people did many fewer of the more expensive rebuys and the field was half the size to begin with) and I raised with AK. A player with JJ moved all in for about 100,000 and I called. The flop came with a K and I was a 10-1 favorite. The turn was a blank and I was a 22-1 favorite. Sadly the river was a J, I lost the pot and was out a few hands later. If I'd won that pot I would have been in 1st place with 15 players left with (in my estimation) about an 80% chance of making it to the top 6. So close!

I started the $1,050 event feeling pretty good about my chances since I'd made the money in my previous two WCOOP hold'em events (the chance of that happening for a player of exactly average skill in both events or if it was all luck would be 1 in 57.7). The blinds started off at 25/50 and the players started with 15,000 chips each.

One of the things that makes a big money tournament great is how long it's going to take. If I'm playing a $20 tournament I want it to be fast so I can play a lot of them. But if I'm playing a $1,000 tournament I want it to take as long as possible. The longer it takes the more skill comes into play. The things that determine how long it's going to take are the number of starting chips, the length of time between blind increases and the severity of blind increases (ie do they jump from 100/200 to 200/400 or do they jump from 100/200 to 150/300 and then to 200/400).

It occurred to me that at the main event of the WSOP they also start with 25/50 blinds and have almost the exact same severity in blind increases, but they start with 10,000 chips instead of 15,000! Of course they have 90 minute limits instead of 30 minute limits, but when you factor in the fact that you get twice as many hands per hour online, this tournament structure was not far off from that one. The point is, this was a great tournament set up allowing for plenty of time to have skill come into play.

Early on, I played a hand beautifully, but it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. The blinds were 50/100 and a player in middle position open raised to 400. I had AA in the small blind and I reraised to 1,000. I was hoping the initial raiser would do something stupid like move all in or make a big reraise, but he just called. The flop came down 6 5 2 with two spades which was a fantastic flop. There was almost no chance that I was behind and I knew I'd get action from just about any middle or big pair. I bet out 1,200 hoping to get raised, but my opponent just called. The turn was a 5 which was another great card.

I figured there was about a 98% chance that my opponent had either AK (not very likely since I had two aces AND he'd called a sizable bet on the flop, but still a slim possibility), a pair between 77 and KK or a flush draw. By far the most likely hand for him to have was a pair. Conventional wisdom would tell you to bet again here and almost anyone would have bet again. But, I was almost positive that my opponent had an over pair to the flop and I figured that if I checked, he'd think that I had a hand like AK and bet his pair. I could then raise him and put him in a real bind. Even if he didn't have much of a hand I thought he might try to steal the pot with a bet. Checking when you know you have the best hand hoping to induce a bet from a worse hand is one thing that separates the pros from the weekend warriors.

But he checked. Crap! Maybe he had a flush draw? The river was the 3 of spades which was a terrible card since it completed the flush draw and put a 1 card straight possibility on the board. Now I couldn't bet for fear of a flush and if my opponent did have a big pair there was no way he'd bet it now. We both checked and he showed JJ.

Pocket Jacks? What kind of weak ass player won't bet pocket Jacks on a board of all small cards after a check on the turn? Bastard! For about 3 seconds I thought "I should have bet on the turn." But then I remembered David Sklansky's Fundamental Theorum of Poker. It essentially says; anytime you do something differently than you would if you could see your opponents cards, they benefit and every time you do something the same way you would if you could see their cards, you benefit.

The point is, if I saw that he had JJ I would have checked the turn for sure so even though I would have made more money by betting, I still played the hand correctly. That might be a little counterintuitive, but asking yourself if you would have done anything differently if you could see their cards during the hand is a powerful tool in evaluating your own play.

My next interesting hand came with blinds of 150/300. I had Q7 of spades in the big blind and the player on the button raised to 850. I made a loose call in the big blind and the flop came down K 4 4 with two spades. My opponent could really have just about anything. Some players will raise almost any two cards on the button if everyone folds to them and one of the reasons I called is I knew if I got a chance to show my hand, the player on the button would be less likely to raise my big blind in the future knowing I would call with weak hands.

Now that I'd called and gotten a fair flop, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. This was a rare situation in the sense that betting small, betting big, check calling, check folding and check raising were all reasonable options with their own risks and benefits. I decided to check and see how much my opponent bet. There was 1,850 in the pot and he bet 1,500. I was hoping he'd bet something like 1,000 or less which would indicate weakness which would make check raising the clear thing to do, but this was a little tougher. Folding was certainly an option, given the size of his bet, but I decided to call.

The turn was a blank and now I was facing a tougher decision. I was now only about 20% to make my flush and I couldn't call a big bet. Luckily my opponent only bet 2,000. I wasn't quite getting the odds I needed to justify a call, but I figured if I hit, I'd be able to win some more chips on the river. Happily the river was a spade, I bet 5,000 and got called. My opponent had AK and was no doubt wishing he'd bet more at some point during the hand.

I was over 30,000 chips at that point and feeling pretty good. In fact over the next hour or so I managed to win 3 or 4 pots in the 2,000-3,000 chip range and found myself with over 40,000 chips about 3 hours into the tournament. Unfortunately it was all down hill from there.

It wasn't one big hand that did it to me. It was a few failed small bluffs, a few times I missed with good hands against people who hit and a few risks that didn't work out. Essentially the problem was I went over 100 hands without winning a pot bigger than just the blinds. When the blinds moved to 500/1000 with a 100 chip ante about 5 hours into the tournament (I'd been dealt over 300 hands to that point) I was down to just over 10,000 chips.

On the hand that I went broke I was in the small blind with K 3. The player on the button just called and I put in 500 chips looking to see a cheap flop. There was already 3,400 in the pot so I was getting almost 7-1 on my money and I needed to take some chances before I was ground into dust. The flop came down K T 9 with two spades, which looked promising and dangerous at the same time.

I decided I was going to go with this hand and hope for the best so I decided to try a check raise. I checked as did the player in the big blind and the button bet 2,000. I moved all in, the big blind folded and the button instantly called. When the cards turned over I saw that he had A4 of spades which put me at 54% to win the hand. The turn was a blank and I was 73% to win the hand, but the river was an ace and I was out in 1,054th place.

The WCOOP is winding down for me even though Sunday's event was only #14 of 23. Almost all of the remaining events are either too expensive or games that I don't play for big money or both. After yesterday's action my starting bankroll of $2,000 is at $3,082.

I have plans to play two more WCOOP tournaments. One is $320 6-handed no limit hold 'em on Wednesday and the other is a $320 satellite to the $2,600 main event on Saturday. The satellite is special because pokerstars is guaranteeing 100 seats will be given away. I'm sure they'll get more than enough players to meet that guarantee and I feel like this is my best chance to get into the main event which I'd love to play, but is just too expensive.

I might play a handful of satellites here and there, and if I make the money on Wednesday I might make a stronger effort to get into the main event, but I'd like to have some profit to show for all of my efforts even if it's just a few bucks. I think maybe I'll give myself another $142 to work with playing small satellites to various events so that no matter what I'll end with a $300 net profit and my backers will return 15% on their investment.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

No Good News

No good news today. Details coming later today or tomorrow.

WCOOP Event #14 Underway

Today's $1,050 event kicked off with 3,325 players. 1st place is $580,212, 5th is $130,340, 18th is $17,622, 117th is $4,655 and 486th is $1,330 just to give you little idea of the prizes.

Someone at my table went broke with AA vs KK on the third or fourth hand. We started with 15,000 chips and blinds of 25/50. One player raised to 130, the player with AA went to 230, and the player with KK made it 500. The initial raiser called, the player with AA made it 2,500 and got called by the player with KK. The flop came Q high with 3 clubs and they both had a club. All the money when in on the turn which happened to be a K.

This tournament is probably a really big deal for all but about 200 players in the field and it makes me kind of sick to see that happen to someone. The amount of good that the player who doubled up is probably 5% of the pain that the player with the AA is feeling.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Heavy WCOOP action

Today was the only day on my WCOOP schedule where I played 2 main events at the same time. Before I got to the real meat of the day I played a few satellites and a few other tournaments. While I was trying to figure out when I wanted to start today, I totally forgot about my supernova freeroll. You'd think that winning almost $8,000 last week would have burned the details of that tournament into my brain. Luckily Jen reminded me and I started my day off at around 11 am hoping to have a long day ahead of me. I didn't do anything in the Supernova, but I has success in other tournaments.

I'd missed out on all of the HORSE satellites which all started earlier, but I managed to play two small satellites to the $530 pot limit event. I never really got anything going and dropped $68 without getting close to the money.

A little later I played in another satellite that was special. The tournament was for Sunday's $1,050 event and was limited to players above a certain level of VIP status. What made the tournament special was Pokerstars added eighteen $1,050 seats to the prize pool above any beyond what the players contributed! Pretty sweet. The buy in was 6,600 FPP's (which are worth exactly $105 or 10% of a seat), 611 players entered and the top 79 finishers won $1,050 seats.

In contrast to the vast majority of satellites on Pokerstars which are turbos and have the blinds increase every 5 minutes, this tournament had 15 minute limits. We started with 1,500 chips and I made some progress right away. In no time I was up to 5,000 chips. I stayed about that level for a long, long time which was fine since I had enough chips to work with.

With about 125 players left I had about 4,200 chips and the blinds were 200/400 with a 40 chip ante. I picked up A6 suited in middle position and decided to move all in. I instantly regretted it. This hand was just not good enough and I wasn't yet quite desperate enough to move all in with such a marginal hand. Sure enough I got called by QQ and figured I was done. But I flopped a 6 and turned a 6 and doubled up! A few hands later I picked up QQ and won another few thousand when I reraised a raiser. So far so good.

With 100 players left I was in about 25th place with 12,000 chips and only needing to get to 79th I figured I could make it without playing another hand. Unfortunately I miscalculated. No one was playing any hands and it felt like 5 minutes was passing between every player elimination. The blinds kept getting bigger and bigger and my stack was melting away with every hand that passed.

By the time we were down to 90 players I was down to 6,000 and the blinds were up to 600/1200. ACK! I picked up TT on the button and with two shortish stacks in the blinds I was praying everyone would fold to me so I could move all in. Happily I got my wish and stole the blinds. I might have been able to make it without that hand, but it would have been much closer. After probably another 30 nerve racking minutes or so we'd lost the remaining players we needed and I picked up a sweet $1,050 seat! This was a net profit of $945 into the WCOOP coffers!

The HORSE event was amazingly uninteresting and since I don't have the ability to remember hands from all the weird games well as I do hold 'em hands I'll just gloss over it. Everyone at my table sucked at Omaha and Razz and were marginal at the other non hold'em games. I lasted about 4 hours or so and finished in 815th out of 1,639. A little disappointing given my competition but still a minor speed bump at worst.

I put in a much better showing in the $530 pot limit event. I cruised along for the first 3+ hours and had the one double up I mentioned in my previous post. I was back down to about 4,000 (we started with 3,000 chips) from my high of 5,500, with blinds of 150/300 when I picked up AK in the small blind. I raised to 900, the player in the big blind reraised and I moved in my remaining chips. He turned over KQ which I was thrilled to see (when you have AK, a worse K is the best hand to be up against). I managed to dodge a bad beat, my had held up and I was over 8,000.

I'd faded a little bit and was down to 6,000 with blinds of 200/400 when my next big hand came up. I was in the small blind again and after everyone folded I just called with QT. The player in the big blind raised to 1,200 and I called. The flop came down K J 5 giving me an open ended straight draw.

I wasn't sure what my next move should be. I didn't have anything that could win the pot yet, but I had a nice draw and my opponent could literally have anything since it's a common play to raise as a total bluff when the player in the small blind just calls. I decided to check and see what happened. My opponent bet 1,600 which didn't give me much of a clue as to what he might have. I decided to be aggressive and move all in. I thought I had a chance to win the pot without a fight right there and even if I got called I'd make my straight one time in three. Luckily my opponent quickly folded and I was up to 9,000 chips.

Shortly after, I had to put my tournament life on the line again. With blinds still at 200/400 I picked up QQ and raised to 1,200. A player who had about 7,000 chips reraised to 4,200 and I put him all in. I was hoping he had a smaller pair, but worried that he might have AA or KK. When he showed his cards I saw that he had AK suited. This wasn't perfect, but it wasn't terrible either. I was a 53% favorite before the flop, but when a Q came out on the flop it was all but over. After winning that pot my stack had swelled to 16,000 chips and I was in 77th place of 180. With 153 players making the money I was in great shape for another cash.

I went up to 18,000 and back down to 11,000, but when we finally made it to 153 players I had about 15,000 with an average stack of about 25,000. I was guaranteed to pick up $872 and hoping to move up a few more levels.

I dribbled down to 11,000 with a few minor miscues and then with blinds at 400/800 I picked up AA in the big blind. AH HA! The firs player to act raised, when it got to me I reraised and he just called. The flop came down T 9 6 and Jen said something like "That can't be a bad flop." ACK! MASSIVE JINX ALERT! I moved all in my remaining chips and got called by T9! Shit! Luckily I caught an ace on the turn, took down the pot and was up to 23,000.

A little while later with blinds of 500/1000 I put a player who had about 7,000 chips all in with AJ. He turned over QQ, but I hit an ace on the flop and was up to 32,000. After that hand I was starting to feel a little invincible. I had just about the average stack and I was starting to dream about making the final table where instead thousands, I'd be looking at tens of thousands (8th was $10,900 and it went up from there to $117,00 for 1st).

We crossed over the next money jump at 117 players and I was now looking at at least $981. Then I made a mistake. With blinds of 500/1000 a player in middle position made the minimum raise. I called with AT suited in the small blind and the big blind folded. The flop came down T 9 7 and I bet 3,000 into the 5,000 chip pot. My opponent just called, and the turn was another small card. I bet 6,000 and got raised to 12,000. I was hoping that the minimum raise preflop indicated a marginal hand, but now it looked like it was either a big pair or a set. I folded wishing I'd just dumped that cheese before the flop. I was down to 17,000 and in need of some help.

We crossed over the next payout jump which meant I was sure to get at least $1,144. Then I met my demise. A player to my left raised to 2,500 and I reraised to 8,000 with QQ. He put me all in and turned over AK. The flop came down 3 4 5 which was OK, but the turn was a 2 making him a straight and with no 6 or A on the river to force a split, I was out in 89th place.

I managed to net $614.50 on this event and felt good about how I played. Clearly things are going well in the WCOOP. Right now my starting WCOOP bankroll of $2,000 has almost doubled and is up to $3,917.30!!!

Tomorrow is the biggest event on my schedule - $1,050 no limit hold 'em. Pokerstars is guaranteeing a 2 million dollar prize pool so I suspect it will be more like 3 million with 1st place being around half a million. I give my self no worse than a 1 in 1750 shot of taking down 1st place and the way I've been playing lately, who knows what might happen.