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.