Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SUPERNOVA ELITE!!!

I did it!

I ended the year with 1,000,051 points. I wish I could say it was easy and that I ended the year on a high note. Unfortunately, it was the exact opposite. December 2008 was without a doubt the worst week of my professional life. Not only did I play every day but one from the 2nd until the 30th (I actually knocked out a record 7,000 points on the 30th to wrap it up), but I got my ass kicked in the process. I don't want to go into the exact numbers, but I will say that it was my worst month ever by a substantial margin.

While I know that I ran into some pretty horrific luck this month, I'm certain that for most of the time I wasn't playing winning poker. I just don't have it in me to play 7 or 8 games at a time for 8 hours a day, every day for a month. Ideally, I should be playing 4 games at a time 6 hours a day, 5 days a week so it was a real stretch.

In this case my hands were tied. I needed to make up for the fact that I did 7 months of work in the first 9 months of the year by doing 5 months of work in the last 3. Like I said before, it was not easy and I am beat! In 2009 I expect to do a much better job of spreading my effort over the whole year evenly.

But guess what? I MADE IT TO SUPERNOVA ELITE! Myself from a year and a half ago wouldn't have believed it. In fact I think this was one of the first times in my life that people doubted me. While I don't think anyone would have called me a hard working guy until recently, almost everyone would call me a smart, capable guy. But I can't tell you how many people said to me "Are you going to make it?" in all seriousness even when I was coming down the home stretch. Not "how is it going with the points?" Or "What is it going to take for you to make it?"

Every time I heard "are you going to make it?" in the last few months of the year I wanted to say "Are you fucking kidding me? Am I going to make it? OF COURSE I'M GOING TO MAKE IT! Do you think I'm going to bail on $30,000 that I've been working towards all year? Do you think I'm just going to wake up one morning, not feel like playing and just blow it off? ARE YOU CRAZY!? Do you think I'm a totally unreliable, flaky, idiot?"

Of course I never actually said that, but it's what I was thinking every time. Normally I just responded by saying that I was going to make it no matter what it took, but if you are one of the people who asked me if I was going to make it, don't feel bad. Almost everyone I know used those exact words!

Within 5 minutes of earning that last point I was sucking on an $80 Magnum of Champagne that I had bought specifically for celebrating that exact moment. It was hard to feel too excited since I knew this was coming for a long time, but now that it's been 24 hours and it's had some time to sink in, I'm pretty proud of myself. I don't think I've ever achieved a goal in my life that took so long, and involved so much effort.

The second part of the celebrations starts tomorrow! My wife Jen and I are leaving our son with his grandparents and heading out for two nights in Vegas (at the Bellagio - BOOM!)! Actually the genesis of this trip was the fact that it's actually a bachelor/bachelorette party for our good friends Jake and Chrissy who are getting married on January 10th. Our other good friends E.B. and Jean will be there and we're going to drink, eat and gamble as if we are celebrating all kinds of good shit (which we are) and are living the kind of lives that most people only dream about (which we are).

Now that I'm done killing myself I'll have more time to blog. I enjoy it, but some days I just need to be away from the computer! I'm taking the next 11 days off (YAY!), but then it will be time to start work on Supernova Elite 2009!

Also on the horizon are some WCOOP or FTOPS style tournaments on Ultimate bet in mid January. The buy ins are smaller, they prize pools are smaller, there are many fewer tournaments and the prestige is close to nothing, but I expect weak play from my opponents and it could be a chance to make some solid cash. I haven't decided if I'm going to take backers on this one or not, but I'll keep you posted and put up a schedule of events when I get back from Vegas.

2008 was a great year for me in my personal and professional life. I hope that it was great for you too and that 2009 is even better for us all! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things Getting Better

I wish I could say I started really kicking ass recently, but I can't. I have however stopped flushing money faster than the US automakers and have actually won the past three days.

The day after my last post I dropped another $2,000 or so in the first few hours of play. At this point I was in a state of panic. I had about $2,000 left in my account and had been losing an average of $2,000 a day for the past 8 days. This was December 9th and I had to go all the way back to November 21st (three days before I left for vacation) to see a winning day in my records. I can tell you that from the day I was dealt my first hand of Texas Hold'em in August of 2000 until now I've never gone 19 days (I only played ten of those days) without a winning day.

In addition to all of the losing I was worried about keeping enough money in my account to keep playing. Pokerstars has 4 deposit methods that I can use: Instant E-checks (they take the money right out of your bank account), credit card, Western Union and Money Order. The first two have a limit of $600 a day and $1,000 in any 7 days. By the time I was down to $2,000 I'd already maxed those out.

So I asked my wife to read the 1,000 words of instructions on depositing via money order, get a money order for $5,000 and send it off to pokerstars ASAP. It turns out you have to send it registered mail and that takes 5 to 10 business days because it has to go all the way to the Isle of Mann which is in the UK. When I heard this news I had a medium sized freak out. I'd stared the day with $4,000 in my account, and I'd sent my wife out with instructions to pay whatever it cost to get that $5,000 to the Isle of Mann as fast as possible. At that point I was thinking my account would be back to $9,000 in 2 or 3 days and $4,000 would be more than enough to last me that long even if my bad luck kept up. By noon I had $2,000 with no prospects a big deposit for at least week and I was thinking $2,000 might not last the rest of the day.

This was a totally unforeseen set of difficulties!

The last despot option is western Union which while also limited has a more substantial $1,800 daily and $6,000 weekly maximum. This option also came with a full page of instructions including the name of a person in Costa Rica to whom I could send the money. Not a company, or an entity, but specifically "Greivin Navarro Segura." Right after "look both ways before you cross the street" and "don't take candy from strangers" I think every child should learn "don't send money via Western Union to Costa Rica!" Actually I had confidence in the validity of the transaction, but it was going to cost $100 to send $1,800 so I decided to wait until it was absolutely essential that I make a deposit.

Luckily, I told my good friend Matt about the conundrum and he offered to transfer $2,500 into my account until the Money order cleared. Happily that happened today and after a few wins and cashing in a few FPP blocks I'm back up to about $11,000 after transferring Matt back his $2,500.

So why am I going through all this trouble anyway? I think it's been a long time since I mentioned the benefits of Supernova Elite so briefly I want to remind you all (and remind myself) why I'm busting my ass playing for twenty 10+ hour days in a row.

Perhaps the least glamorous part is that instead of getting 3.5 FPPs for every base FPP I will get 5 FPPs for every base FPP. I'm sure the magnitude of that isn't clear to almost all of you so I'll try to explain. Every time you're dealt into a hand where pokerstars takes $1 out of the pot you get 1 base FPP (which for simplicity I refer to as points on this blog - I need 1,000,000 base FPPs in a year to be Supernova Elite). If they take $2 out of a pot you get 2 base FPPs which is the most you can earn on one hand. If they take no money because someone wins before you make it to the flop you get no points.

Playing $10/$20, on average, I make about 1.4 base FPPs per hand. That translates into 4.9 actual FPPs per hand this year as a supernova and will be 7 actual FPPs as a Supernova Elite. I can then trade in 250,000 actual FPPs for $4,000 cash.

To simplify, in order to make $4,000 in bonus cash it takes me 51,000 hands right now and next year it will only take me 35,700. That's a big deal.

The more glamorous part is the FREE tournament entries. I get entry into the WCOOP main event FREE which normally costs $5,200.

I get entry into the Main Event of the WSOP FREE which normally costs $10,000! Plus I get $2,500 in travel expenses, and 8 nights hotel in Vegas!

I get FREE entry into the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure tournament which normally costs $10,000! Plus I get $2,500 in travel expenses and 7 nights at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas!

That's some serious shit! And I'm going to get it all! And that's why I'm working so hard.

I've got about 48,000 points left to go. I'll let you know the next time I have some good news.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bounce Back

I wrote my last post just after finishing my work day. An hour or so later I got a call from my good friend Matt wondering if I was OK. I just wanted to assure everyone that I'm not as upset as my last post might lead you to believe. One of the things that has allowed me to be so successful as a professional poker player is I have great bounce back.

I'm always pissed when I lose. If it's one dollar or ten thousand, I hate to lose. But my personal life is as good as anyone could ever wish for. I have a family who I love and who loves me, I have great friends, and I like where I live and what I do. While I never feel great after a loss, those feelings are always short lived.

Tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to go into it with a positive attitude and do whatever I can to make it a successful one!

More Bad News

I really don't like posting about all the bad news so I'll keep this brief. I lost about $2,500 yesterday and another $600 today. This is now without a doubt, hands down the worst run I've ever had in my entire life. I've moved to beyond frustrated, and beyond angry, into just feeling sad. It's really depressing flushing so much money in such a short period of time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Worst Losing Streak Ever?

I can't say for sure since I'm not willing to look back over years of records, but I think I'm in the midst of my worst losing streak ever! I know I've lost on 8 consecutive days in the past, and while I'm only on a 5 day downswing I've dropped in the neighborhood of ten grand since I got back from vacation! ACK!

After getting beat down for $3K on Wednesday, I lost almost $4K on Thursday. Then after two moderate $400 losses I lost about $2K today. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I can tell you that it sucks (you can tell how much by all of the exclaimation points I'm using!)! I feel like I'm playing OK, if not well, but for whatever reason I'm just getting smoked.

While there's never a good time to go on a major losing streak, this is really bad timing. I'm up against the wall with the end of the year looming and my FPP's not quite where the need to be (I'm at about 910,000 points for the year). I just can't take a day off to regroup which is what I'd normally do. I can't even drop down a limit since I need my point production to be a full capacity.

To make matters worse my account balance is getting a little short. Normally I like to keep about $20K in pokerstars, but after paying off a few backers for the FTOPS with transfers and the beatings I've been taking I'm down to about $5K. I've actually had to resort to depositing (GASP! I'll never live down the shame!) to keep enough dough in there for me to do my thing.

The good news is I'm not feeling as bad as you might expect. In fact if I could have any kind of winning day at all tomorrow I'd be happy. After all I killed last month and in about three days or so I'll be clearing a $4,000 FPP block. The only thing that has me worried is that perhaps the games have gotten tougher as a result of the economic crisis or perhaps I've changed something slightly in the way that I'm playing. When you play 4,000 hands a day, even the smallest change can have a big effect.

It's probably just the natural ebb and flow of the stakes, but the longer this type of thing goes on the more likely it's an internal problem and not outside factors so I'm constantly trying to reevealuate everything when I have a losing streak.

I just read a poker article today that quoted Winston Churchill. Apparently he once said "If you find yourself going through Hell, keep walking." I'm not going to dig myself out of this hole with inaction. When it comes down to it there's really nothing for me to do, but keep playing, try to play my best and know that it's going to turn around eventually.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Twenty Days of Pain!

Seems like it should be easy right? After all I did 40 (ok 38!) days of pain not too long ago and these days of pain will require the same 5,000 base FPPs a day that those did.

Well you didn't factor in the fact that I've totally forgotten how to play! TDOP day 1was, well, painful. After a long (well deserved, and very pleasant) vacation I came back and had one of my ten worst days of the year! ACK!

I lost something like $3,000, but I did manage to hit my 5,000 point goal. Of course it had been a while since I actually looked at my bank account balance after massive cashouts from my fulltilt account so I'm not exactly in a panic. After all November was one of my best months ever, and even if I get killed in December this is still going to be a banner year.

In other news while the glory of the FTOPS X is still burning bright in the recent past, my next major shot at glory is on the horizon. It's come to my attention that there is a set of tournaments at the L.A. Poker Classic which fit my skill set like a pair of old sneakers.

The L.A. Poker Classic takes place every year at the Commerce Casino, (in the Los Angeles area) which is the largest brick and mortar (as they say) poker room in the country (or the world, I can never remember). In fact the Commerce and more specifically the L.A. poker classic was the site of the first poker tournament I ever played with a buy in of more than $1,000 (it was $1,500 NL hold'em in 2004 and I finished 64th of 308).

In 2009 the classic is going off over a period of 30+ days mostly in February. There is a stretch of 6 tournaments on consecutive days that all have buy ins between $1,000and $2,000 going off from the 10th to the 15th (I think). 5 are NL hold'em and the other is HORSE!

Since my wife's family lives in nearby Orange County it's very convenient for me to make it to the area, and it's now on my official schedule. Backers, grease up you wallets because this will be another chance to make some easy money. I'll keep you posted on all the details in the near future!

I'm hoping day 2 of the TDOP is a little less painful!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Little Vacation

I'm working tomorrow and then I'm on vacation until December. Sorry blog fans!

When I get back I have 20 days of pain planned that should get me to 1,000,000 points for the year and make me Supernova Elite!

During that stretch I'll try to post at least 10 hands of the day...of course I've been known to make empty blog promises in the past, but I'll do my best.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

FTOPS X Final Thoughts

Sorry about the lack of update on the last two events. I got a little burned out on blogging in the past few weeks.

In the $129 Knockout I gave myself a chance to go deep. After losing 60% of my chips 5 minutes in I figured it was going to be an early exit. But two hours later I hadn't gone broke or picked up any chips. Then I went on a total tear. By the time we were down to 1,000 players from the 7,000 we started with I was in 6th place. But as we approached the money (which was the top 720) I had A TON of moves backfire on me.

One of my big strengths (which has come from the experience of playing thousands of tournaments) is going after other players with total air because I know the situation is right. Normally when I have a big stack and we're getting close to the money I'm very good at running over the table (no matter what cards I get) without making it too obvious (you can't just raise every hand and expect to get away with it no matter how many chips you have). This time it seemed like every time I made a play someone played back at me. So by the time we'd made the money I was back to average, and went broke soon after when I made a bold, but solid play and ran into a big hand. I busted 3 people along the way (which isn't very many at all given I went from 5,000 chips at the start to over 120,000 at one point), and made a net profit of $138 (including the knockouts) for the tournament.

In the $535 event I went broke in very unusual fashion. Specifically I lost with AA to 23! That's not something that happens every day, and I bet 99% of the time it happens it's because someone slow played their aces. I, on the other hand, actually raised more than I normally would have and the guy with the 23 wasn't even in the blinds!

We started the tournament with 7,500 chips and I had about 6,000 left. The blinds were 50/100 and I raised to 350 in first position. I got called by 4 players in the field and the big blind! ACK! The flop came a bunch of junk with 2 clubs. I bet the pot and everyone folded around to the button who moved all in for about 10,000. I called, he had 23 of clubs, a club showed up and that was it.

In the end I took my $10,000 starting bankroll and turned it into $36,565. Of course all of that profit came from one tournament and if I hadn't played that one the FTOPS would have resulted in a fairly substantial loss.

At the start my goal was to have 4 cashes and one final table. I ended up playing 15 events which was a few less that I had originally planned (the fact that a ton of the tournaments started at 6 p.m. stopped me from playing more), so I'm happy to have had 3 cashes and of course my second place in the $256 PLO felt wonderful.

According to the FTOPS X leader board I tied for 67th place in terms of the player of the series competition. That's pretty cool since there were probably around 15,000 unique users that competed in the FTOPS.

Unlike the WCOOP the FTOPS is a twice a year thing (I think), and I know ultimate bet which has just joined forces with absolute poker runs a similar (but certainly smaller) set of tournaments which I've been meaning to check out. So before you know it I'll be back in the action. For now it's back to the daily point grind. I'll try to put up a hand of the day or two this week.

In conclusion I want to just add...SECOND PLACE! $33,000 BITCHES!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

FTOPS Main Event Satellites

I just stumbled upon what might be some great value. Fulltilt has a set of about 5 $109 Satellites to the $535 main event. In all of them they've guaranteed AT LEAST 45 seats will be given away. That means they need at least 240 people to sign up to hit that guarantee. Right now with 5 minutes to go before it starts the first only had 142 players registered. The others are starting in like an hour and then every 30 minutes after that and have just about no one signed up. I looked like I've got a great shot to get into the $535 tournament cheap. Just a reminder to my backers that you too have a piece of all the FTOPS satellites!

FTOPS Update

Sorry for the major blog slacking! I went broke in the $216 FTOPS event in unspectacular fashion on Friday (I don't think I ever mentioned that result), and I just wasn't in the mood to play yesterday afternoon so I blew off the $109 PLO with rebuys.

I did have an interesting hand come up in the $535 heads up matches. I'm going to call it hand of the day #4. About 10 hands into my first match I got dealt 84 off suit in the big blind. My opponent just called and I checked. The flop came down QJ8 all hearts, I checked and my opponent bet 30 into the 60 chip pot. I didn't have much with bottom pair no kicker, but since my opponent could have just about anything I thought it might be the best hand.

The turn brought another 8! BINGO! Now I was hoping I was up against a Q or a J. Looking to get maximum value I checked and when my opponent bet 90 I made it 270 to go. We'd both started the tournament with 3,000 chips and I'd started the hand with a few hundred more than my opponent so I knew if he overplayed the hand or made an insane all in bluff I could bust him and move on to the next round.

After a long stall my opponent called my raise. I was thinking anything but a heart, a Q or a J would be a good river card. Instead I got a great one - a 4! There was almost 700 in the pot and I decided a bet of 400 was about right. To my delight my opponent made it 1,700 to go. This looked like a total bluff to me, but no matter what it was my only move was going all in.

My opponent instantly called and turned over T9 of hearts. For a second I thought about how I'd just put a sweet bad beat on him...and then I saw that T9 made a straight flush! AHHHHHHH!

Losing a full house to a straight flush is not something that happens everyday. I lost an ace high flush to a straight flush about a week ago, but I think it's been a few months if not years since I've lost a full house to a straight flush (I've never lost with 4 of a kind or better, but I have beaten 4 of a kind twice with better quads).

I was left with about 300 chips and actually brought that back to over 2,000 before getting it all in with a flush draw and losing to two pair.

In other news I've decided to skip the $1,000 in person tournament next Sunday. I need to get my FPP production back into full swing, and that's the day before I go on vacation for over a week which will no doubt take some prep time.

So today is the end of the FTOPS X. Hopefully I can do something in one of these last two tournaments. I'll give you all the final total at the end of the day today or tomorrow and I'll be sending out backer checks early next week.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

FTOPS Satellite Update

SO CLOSE! I finished 10th of 88 in a $322 satellite to the $5,200 FTOPS event where the top five finishers got seats. The good news is I only played two other satellites, a $216 to the $5,200 event and a $109 to todays $535 heads up matches event.

In the latter the top 42 finishers of 227 entrants got a seat and while I was about 3 hands from being anted off I made it to the top 42! So it lookes like I'm playing $535heads up matches at 11 am. To make the money I'll need to win 3 matches, each vs just one opponent. I really enjoy this format, but I haven't had a ton of success playing in events with this structure so that's why I left it off my original schedule.

Of course I played the satellite on a total whim. In fact the tournament had already been running for 5 minutes when a message in the chat box of one of my other satellites mentioned it and said registration would be closing soon. For $109 I figured what the hell. Maybe it's destiny!

I also have $109 PLO with rebuys at 1. I'm 2 for 2 in PLO events in the FTOPS so I'm feeling good about my chances.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

FTOPS Event #18, WSOP Champs, and Peter Eastgate Trying to Kill Me

I got my starting stack of 4,000 chips up to 8,000 at one point in Event #18 ($322 Razz), but that was as far as it went.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this tournament was I got to play against 1996 WSOP main event Champ Huck Seed until he went broke. Huck has two WSOP bracelets in Razz so it was interesting to watch one of the worlds best razz players play for a few hours.

This makes 5 world champions that I've played against. Specifically, Tom McEvoy (1983), Phil Helmuth (1989), Huck Seed (1996), Chris Ferguson (2000) and Chris Moneymaker (2003).

Also of note I've played against three WSOP main event runners up: Dewey Tomko (1982, 2001), Erik Seidel (1988), and Julian Gardner (2002). And of course like everyone who has ever been to Vegas I played craps with 1985/2000 runner up T.J. Cloutier.

This leads me to briefly mention the 2008 WSOP main event champion Peter Eastgate who was recently crowned the champ. Have you seen this guy? Did you see his reaction when he won over $9,000,000 and the world championship? He looked like he was watching episodes of Full House that he'd seen five times before. He looked like he was waiting for his bags at the airport. He looked like he was playing 50 cent blackjack and they told him it was time to shuffle the deck. Did no one tell him about the $9,000,000? Was he on some massive depressants or something?

Of the 9 people at the final table he was the worst one for the promotion of poker. He has all the charisma of a bowl of plain, lite oatmeal. He makes Greg Raymer look like Brad Pitt's character in Fight Club. He makes Robert Varkoni look like James Bond. He makes Jaime Gold seem like an F-ing mix of Mick Jagger, Tiger Woods and Han Solo! When is someone with a little personality going to win the world championship? You're killing me Peter Eastgate! You're Killing me! If someone with the vitality of the keyboard player of any marginal 80's rock band could win, online poker would get a major boost. Instead we have Peter "plain rice cake, fat free vanilla pudding, room temperature water" Eastgate. ACK! If (cough, when, cough) I ever win that shit I'm going to need 6 agents to negotiate all of the sponsorship deals!

Whew! Sorry Peter. I laid it on a little thick there. I'm sure you're a great guy and I'm sorry I spent the last few paragraphs slamming you. I'm sure you don't deserve it.

In all seriousness, Eastgate played great and he deserved to win. I was rooting for Chino Rheem (who I played against at the final table of the $1,000 HORSE second chance tournament in the WCOOP), but Eastgate did his thing and maybe in the coming months and years he'll turn out to be an admirable champ.

But for now, YOU'RE KILLING ME PETER EASTGATE, YOU'RE KILLING ME! YOU'RE SO BORING! AHHHHHHHHHHH!

PPA Congress Ratings!

Check to see if your congress person is good or bad for online poker here! Of the three listed for my zip code one got an F- (ACK!), another got an F and another got a B.

Unlawful Internet Gaming Comment Response

Recently London Dave put up the following comment:

Dave
What is your take as an American online pro, and implications for you.


Compliance 12/1/09

The Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board today announced the release of a joint final rule to implement the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The Act prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, including payments made through credit cards, electronic funds transfers, and checks.

The Board and the Treasury are required by the Act to develop a joint rule in consultation with the Department of Justice. The final rule requires U.S. financial firms that participate in designated payment systems to establish and implement policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to prevent payments to gambling businesses in connection with unlawful Internet gambling. The rule provides non-exclusive examples of such policies and procedures and sets out the regulatory enforcement framework. For purposes of the rule, unlawful Internet gambling generally would cover the making of a bet or wager that involves use of the Internet and that is unlawful under any applicable federal or state law in the jurisdiction where the bet or wager is initiated, received, or otherwise made.

Compliance with the rule is required by December 1, 2009.

http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsev...20081112a1.pdf

London Dave

For those of you who have forgotten or didn't know the story of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act here is a brief summary of the story. When the UIGEI passed in September 2006 as a last second addition to the Safe Port Act of 2006 (tell me that's not total bullshit!) it called for the treasury department to figure out a way to police transactions related to online gaming within 270 days. Banks everywhere cursed under their breath at the super conservative republicans who snuck this garbage in there.

As soon as this legislation passed a movement to get it repealed started. The Poker Players Alliance was created. To make a long story short on that front there are now over 1,000,000 members with a former US senator as the leader. The PPA is constantly lobbying in Washington and pushing forward the cause and fighting for the rights of poker players in the US. Check out their webiste here for all the latest news about the legality of online poker.

Nothing happened for about 50 of those 270 days, then a bunch of bad stuff happened. Neteller and Firepay the two leading processors of payments from customers to online casinos (and vice versa) decided overnight to block US users. Then one by one all of the publicly traded poker sites (including party poker which at the time was by far the industry leader) either shut down completely or blocked US users which turned them into poker ghost towns. This was a major boon for the privately owned websites who's market share got a major boost overnight.

Around this time the games got really tough. Some casual players fearing they were breaking the law stopped playing. Others ran out of money in their account and weren't willing to jump through the hoops to get more in there. All of a sudden if you were in the US the only way to get money into your account was to send the website a money order when before that it was a few clicks and the money was instantly available for play. There were still games to be played, but the easy money started to dry up.

For a good while everything was quiet as far as the UIGEA was concerned. The 270 days came and went and nothing changed. Then came a light in the distance! A savior! A miracle! INSTANT E-CHECKS! All of a sudden it was back to instant transfers right from your bank account to the website.

Gradually the games got better and then there was a bit of good news. A few of the websites that had blocked US users, unblocked them and came back into the fold. To me this was a major sign that the UIGEA was something that was going to be on the books, but didn't really have any teeth.

The news of this week is that the government has set the date of December 1st 2009 for compliance. This seems very similar to the deadline of 270 days. Well guess what, we're coming up on 800 days and all they've done is set a new deadline!

Maybe the biggest problem the government is going to have is the banks don't want any part of this! They don't want to have to review every single transaction to see if it's related in some distant way to online gaming. And even if they did want to check everything out, I'm not sure they could stop it without tremendous effort and cost. With all the trouble in the banking system these days I can't imagine anyone pushing for anything that would make it tougher and more expensive for banks to do business.

When I cashout my checks don't say Pokerstars.com Internet gaming. They say KJR financial or CRQ corp. or BRG group. I don't know if it's ever said the same thing on top of any two checks I've received. Furthermore, the checks themselves all look different and they come from a wide variety of banks.

On the other end when you make a deposit to the website it doesn't say anything at all about gambling on your statement. It says netvibes or intertainment or whatever.

Right now there are no fewer that 6 bills in congress related in one way or another to repealing the UIGEA and/or creating a regulated form of Internet gambling in the US. With the new congress and new administration coming in who knows what might happen.

The two biggest things I have working in my favor are 1) Poker is a skill game and 2) just about no one is in favor of a ban on Internet poker. There has been much talk that even if other online gambling gets squashed somehow that a niche will be carved out for poker since it's a game of skill. The main group of people who are in favor of a ban on online poker are religious Conservatives. In congress those people are on the way out or their power has been greatly diminished. The people who are against it are the banks, the poker players, and most important of all people who think Americans should be able to spend their money however they want to!

Anyway, to sum up I'm not worried. I think things will remain as they are or get better for me. Since I pay my taxes I'm not worried about the government taxing and regulating the industry. If the government licensed a regulated Internet gambling it would be worth billions of dollars to them and everyone in the industry knows that it would bring in so much new money to the system that the extra taxes would hardly matter.

I'm not sure if I really responded to your comment or not Dave. Let me know if there was anything specifically that you'd like me to comment on additionally.

What's left in the FTOPS X?

Tonight I have Event #18 which is $322 Razz. After that I have four events left: $216 NL Hold'em, $109 PLO with rebuys, $129 Knockout NL Hol'em and the "main event" which is $535 NL hold'em with a guaranteed prize pool of $2,500,000.

The real main event is the $5,200 NL hold'em 6-max two day tournament that goes off on Saturday (and Sunday if you make it that far). Despite my big hit early in the FTOPS, I'm not ready to fire five large on one online tournament. But I am going to take about $1,000 and play a few $300 or $500 satellites to see if I can win my way into the field (unlike in the WCOOP if I win a seat I'm actually going to use it!).

I still have loose plans to go play a $1,000 tournament at Lucky Chances Casino in Colma, CA on Sunday the 23rd, but it's close an hour away depending on traffic and I have some concerns about showing up and having the tournament be sold out (they limit it to about 200 entrants since they only have so many tables). If I'm feeling super motivated I might haul myself out there a few days ahead of time and sign up early.

Even if I blank the rest of the way the FTOPS X has been an unqualified success. But let's hope that's not going to happen!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

FTOPS Event #13 Recap

I'm going to make this short since I slept in until noon today and I really need to get to work. I got off to an awesome start in the $535 HORSE tournament, running my starting stack of 5,000 all the way up to 20,000. Then I got done in somewhat by the crazy play of one opponent when I had a draw I couldn't fold (tip: if it's capped three way on 4th street in 7 card stud DON'T RAISE AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY WITH ONE PAIR OF 3'S THE REST OF THE WAY!)and party by a weak tournament structure.

Fulltilt has done a really poor job setting up the blind increases in all the FTOPS tournaments. In the tournament in which I finished second earlier in the FTOPS with 8 players left the average stack was 15 big blinds! This is plainly absurd for tournaments that are supposed to be a big deal. With stakes like those it's hard to play a hand without getting pot committed.

Along those lines there's no way with more than an average stack you should be able to get most of your chips in on one hand in a limit tournament well before you make the money. If this were a $50 HORSE tournament fine, but for $500 it would be nice to have a little more room to maneuver.

Anyway I came up short in the end. No FTOPS until Thursday night for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FTOPS X Event #12 Recap

ACK! Major collapse! Here's what happened in Hand of the Day #4!

I was crusing along nicely in this one when a rather inocuious hand led to my demise. With blinds of 120/240 I was in the small blind with 77 and an almost twice average stack of about 20,000. The button who had about 35,000 chips open raised to 560 and after thinking about reraising I decided to just call. I was hoping to keep the pot small and either get to the showdown cheap or take a stab at the pot and pick it up with a bet.

The flop came down KQ3 with two spades. I checked and my opponent bet about 800. I decided to just call again with the thinking that if he didn't have a K or a Q it would be hard for him to bet the turn and if he did bet the turn I could then fold with some degree of confidence that I was beat.

The turn was a 7! "AH HA!" I thought. Now I was hoping he had something good enough to pay me off. I checked, my opponent bet 2,100 and after a short stall I made it 6,000 to go. When he called me I thought "He's got a king! I've got him now! Double up here I come!"

The river was a third spade and an instant after I'd moved all in I thought "Oh shit, I hope he wasn't calling me with the flush draw that just got there!" I was so focused on the big cards and thinking that he'd connected with the K or the Q that for some reason I totally ignored the flush draw. When he called me with no hesitation I was pretty sure I was dead. To add insult to injury he had T7 of spades meaning that I only had one card in the deck that could make me a set and cost me all of my chips.

This is not one of those hands where I can go away thinking there was nothing I could have done differently. I certainly could have reraised before the flop which probably would have won me the pot right there. And even if it didn't the hand would have played out differently which might have allowed me to either bet enough on the turn to get rid of my opponent or end up saving some of my chips. Also while I might have had to call an all in bet on the river had I checked, I suspect my opponent would have bet less than my whole stack. I'd probably be left with only 3,000 or 4,000 chips, but that's better than zero!

While it might seem like kind of a weak play there is some merit to just folding those stupid sevens before the flop! After all part of good poker is avoiding tough decisions and tough situations, and there aren't too many spots where 77 is going to play easily out of position against a big stack.

Hopefully the HORSE tournament tonight will go better!

Thanks for the Comments!

Thanks to all of you who've posted comments recently. I spend a fair amount of time writing these posts and it's always nice to know that people are reading them and rooting for me!

Recently I checked the stats that the website keeps regarding readers and this month I've had about 125 unique users come to check out my blog. That means about 100 people I don't know are reading about my ups and downs. I'd like to have that number up to 1,000, but I'd probably have to post everyday and get a little more meat in terms of strategy tips to do that.

Anyway thanks again for the comments!

Event #12 Underway!

Event #12 ($216 1/2 PLO 1/2 PLH) started with 936 players. After an hour of play I'm in 12th of 728.

I got off to a super hot start. About five minutes in I got KK was up against AQ and I think another hand with a Q in it. The flop came down Qxx and I got all of one players chips and about 40% of the other's! That took me from 5,000 chips to about 12,000 and put me in first place where I stayed for about 40 more minutes.

In the first Omaha round I, busted someone and went from 12,000 to 17,000. I got dealt KKxx and I was up against ATxx with the AT of hearts. The flop came down KQx with two hearts and we got it all in on the flop. The turn was a heart, but the river paired the board and I took down a nice pot.

In fact now that I think about it, I've gotten about a few hours worth of monster hands in the first hour. I had 22 twice, limped both times, and flopped a set both times, once making quads on the turn. I had other hand where I got dealt JT vs KQ. I made the nut straight and my opponent made two pair.

The only hand that really went against me was one where I flopped the nut flush in the Omaha, I was up against a smaller flush and he made a runner, runner full house.

Hopefully the good luck continues!

Monday, November 10, 2008

FTOPS Events #10 &11 Recap

Not a very exciting day in the FTOPS. In event #10 ($322 Mixed Hold'em) I ran my starting stack of 3,000 up to about 4,500 before losing half of what I had when I missed a nut flush draw. The rest went gradually, mostly during the limit rounds where I raised with a few hands, missed and was forced to fold once I ran into resistance. My last 1,000 chips went in with KJ suited in the NL round, I got called by AJ and that was it. I finished about 400 of 667.

In event #11 ($1060 NL Hold'em) I only lasted half an hour. I've played something like 60 tournament with buy ins of over $1,000 and this is the quickest I've ever been eliminated. I lost half my chips with KK vs 44 when the flop came down with a 4 on it and the rest eventually went in with AJ vs 77.

On the other side of the coin I did win a little over $2,000 in the cash games today so I'm exactly feeling bad.

Tomorrow I have $216 half pot limit hold'em, half pot limit Omaha at 11 and $535 HORSE at 6. These are two tournaments that both look very interesting to me. Hopefully I can do something good in one or both of them.

FTOPS Events #10 & #11 Preview

Event #10 is $322 Mixed Hold'em and is underway with 667 entrants. This is great news since they came up well short of the $250,000 guaranteed prize pool. In fact there is a $35,226 overlay which is about $53 a person. This might not seem like a ton of money given the stakes, but it's not nothing.

Event #11 is the biggest on my schedule (assuming I don't win my way into the $5,000 event) and is $1,000 NL Hold'em. I have no idea what size field we might be looking at at 6 pm on a Monday but they've guaranteed 1.5 million dollars so they must be expecting 1,500 players. Right now there are only 243 signed up so I'm drooling over the possibility of only 1,000 showing up. Now that would be an serious overlay.

Sunday Tournament Recap

Forgot to mention that I made the money in the $215 Sunday Warm up finishing about 300th which paid a little over $600.

Yesterday I felt like I played really well all day, but just didn't get any cards. What I got I made the most of, but you can only do so much with well timed bluffs.

When I got a few hours into the $530 NL tournament on pokerstars I finally started making some hands. We started with 995 players and 10,000 chips each. I doubled up early and by the time we were down to 400 players or so I was in 8th place with over 50,000 chips. I hovered right around that level for a while and with 300 or so players I had an interesting hand come up (Let's call it hand of the day #3)

The blinds were 400/800 with a 25 chip ante and I was in the big blind with 94 offsuit. The player one off the button raised it to 1,800 and it was folded over to me. At first glance this looks like an easy fold right? After all I have 94 and it's not even suited.

That was my first instinct as well, but after some thought I decided to call. There was already 3,425 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,000 to see the flop giving me close to 3.5 to 1 immediate pot odds. But that's not all that was working in my favor. I would expect my opponent to bet the flop if I checked close to 100% of the time. I knew that if I hit I would win much more than the 3,425 in the pot. Also 1,000 was only 2% of my stack so I could easily afford take the chance here. If I had the same matematical situation, but it was going to cost me 10% of my stack I would almost certainly fold. Furthermore my opponent started the hand with 12,000 so no matter what happened I could only be wounded, not killed in the hand.

So I called and the flop came down 9 9 9! HA! I was hoping my opponent had a pocket pair which would mean I was all but certain to get all his chips. I checked an my opponent bet small, about 2,000. This was an obvious time for a slowplay. If my opponent missed he might bluff again on the turn or he might make something. The turn was a ten and I checked again. I was sad to see my opponent check behind me. The river was a small card and I bet 2,000 hoping to get paid off by a hand like AK. Instead of calling my opponent moved all in! It took about a nanosecond for me to call and when the cards got turned over I saw he had AA! HA!

Unfortunately I was on the other side of a bad beat a little later. The tournament paid 144 spots and while I'd started out with a great stack, I started to slip a little and everyone else started to catch up as we got closer to the money.

With 156 players left the blinds were 1000/2000 with a small ante. I got dealt KK in early position and raised it to 6,000. I was shocked, horrified and delighted all at the same time to see the player on my immediate left go all in for 55,000! I started the hand with a little over 40,000 and of course I called.

I thought my opponent could have had anything from 23 to AA and had no idea what I was going to see when the cards got turned over. It turns out I was up against J9 suited which meant I was 80% to win before the flop. After the flop which was 952 I was 82% to win. The turn was a 5 which made me 95.45% to win since a 9 and a 9 only would make my opponent the best hand. But that's what the river was and I was out. CRAP!

The edge of the money was $850, but that's not how much I lost in this pot. How much was that pot worth? Well it's pretty easy to figure out in this situation. There was $500,000 in the prize pool (Exactly $500,000 since that was the guarantee and we came up 5 players short of the 1,000 needed to make it) and I would have had almost exactly 1% of the chips in play. Since no money had been paid out yet that pot was worth about $5,000! ACK!

The total damage on the day was -$1,892. Double ACK!

The good news is my $10,000 starting bankroll for the FTOPS (I'm going to call it the FTOPS for simplicity even though I'm mixing in other stuff) is at $40,389! Hard to be upset about $1,900 when you're ahead $30,000 for the past few days!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Major Heartbreak

I got blanked in the rest of my tournaments including a MAJOR screwjob in the $530. Details coming later.

FTOPS X Event #8 Recap

Event #8 was $256 6 handed NL hold'em knockout. In my last knockout tournament I busted 16 people. This time I did just a little worse knocking out zero. I could have easily gone broke three times before I actually did so in that sense I feel like I played really well. In the end I finished 2,029th of 3,499.

In other news I've had two duds in my pokerstars schedule. The first was a $109 NLH tournament in which I finished 812th of 1,260 after getting it all in preflop with KK vs AA. The second was a $109 NLH with rebuys (I rebought right away so I was in for $209). About a half an hour in I got dealt TT vs AQ, went broke and decided not to rebuy. I didn't like my table very much and just wasn't feeling good about the tournament for some reason.

I've got one foot out the door in the $215 Razz. While it's never over until it's over I'm probably going to finish about 45th out of 72.

The good news is I'm just about in the money in the $215 Sunday Warm Up. We're down to 655, it pays 585 and I'm in 159th after taking my starting stack of 10,000 and running it up to 73,000.

Big Day Underway!

I just wanted to make a quick note to my backers that I've added a few $109 NL hold'em tournaments to my schedule and will probably not play the Omaha and Stud tournaments at the end of my schedule. Whatever I decide to do I just wanted to make it 100% clear that you all have a piece of any multitable tournaments I play on pokerstars or fulltilt today with the exception of two freerolls.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

FTOPS X Event #6 Recap

I feel like I played just about every hand of this torunament well, but I made one play that was pretty thin that did me in in the end. But before I get to that let me share a few other interesting hands.

With about 120 players left I had a big hand come up against another player who had a big stack. In fact he was one of the top ten chip stacks in the tournament and I was somewhere around 20th with a little over 60,000 chips. The blinds were 600/1200 and he opened for 3,600 from the button. I was in the big blind with KK84 and decided to call. The flop came down Q84 giving me bottom two pair. I checked and my opponent bet half the pot.

His bet didn't really tell me anything about his hand since I figured he could bet half the pot with top set or total garbage. I decided to call and see what developed. The turn was a 5 which looked like a brick. I checked, again my opponent bet half the pot and again I decided to just call. I thought my two pair might be good an I figured an 8, 4 or K on the river would make me the best hand.

I got one of the cards I wanted on the river - a king. I checked hoping to get a worse hand to bet or perhaps induce a bluff. My opponent bet 14,000 which was again about half the pot. I was getting ready to move in for 45,000 when I stopped to think.

There weren't 3 of any suit out there so the only think I couldn't beat with top set was 57 which would make a straight. There was no reason to think that my opponent would have 57 in his hand, but I decided there wasn't much he could have that could call a big check raise on the river.

If he was bluffing or betting a marginal hand the whole way I wasn't going to make any more by raising and there was some non zero value in getting to see his hand. So I just called with the thought that I'd really be kicking myself for just calling if he showed me QQ. Amazingly he had 57 in his hand! If I'd raised I would have gone broke and while I was sad to lose that pot I was happy to still be alive with an average stack of around 30,000.

I built my chips back up to about 50,000 when I had a hand that made me extremely nervous. We were down to about 90 players, 6 players from the edge of the money when the playing under the gun made the minimum raise to 3,000 (the big blind was up to 1,500). I was next to act and decided to call with A8xx with the A8 of spades. Three other players called and the flop came down jack high with all spades! BINGO!

I had the total nuts, but all four other players in the pot had me covered and I could still lose to a full house. It got checked to me and I bet 13,000 which was the size of the pot. No way was I messing around versus four opponents this close to the bubble!

Everyone folded to the original raiser who reraised the pot! Like I said, I had the nuts and the logical part of me was thinking "Great! I'm getting action! The rest of me was thinking "AHHHHHHHHHH I'm going to go broke 6 spots short of the money! AHHHHHHHHHHH! I'm going to kill this guy if he beats me! AHHHHHHHHHH!"

I was hoping that he was just trying to push me off the pot. Given that we were so close to the money it would be hard for me to call with anything but the nuts or close to it. Once all the chips went in I was hoping to see total garbage or a smaller flush and dreading the possibility of a set...which is just what he had with JJ! "AHHHHHHHHHH I'm going to go broke 6 spots short of the money! AHHHHHHHHHHH! I'm going to kill this guy if he beats me! AHHHHHHHHHH!"

Amazingly the turn and the river (It felt like it took about 5 minutes for them to come out) were both bricks an I was up close to 100,000 chips!

But it was all down hill from there. I gave back about 15,000 to the same guy on the very next hand. Then I lost about 70,000 more soon after.

I got dealt 8853 in the big blind and called a small raise from the button. The flop came down 762 with two diamonds, I checked, my opponent bet the pot, I raised the pot hoping to blow him off the hand. We were exactly 1 spot short of the money and I figured he'd have a hard time calling without a set. To my shock and surprise he reraised me the pot! At this point I was faced with a big decision. His bet was something like 40,000 at this point so if I was calling I was going all the way. I'd started the hand with about 85,000 chips and my opponent had about 75,000 so even if I got it all in and missed I'd still be all but certain to make the money.

I had an open ended straight draw and an overpair so it was likely that a 4, 8 or 9 would make me the best hand. I'm not sure I was getting the right odds to draw, but in the end I decided to just go for it, because that's how I roll! It turned out he had KT66 with the KT of diamonds and I missed.

This was a bit of a questionable play, but I think it was OK. I could have folded and continued with something like 50,000 chips, but it wasn't crazy to call. Even moving up another 50 places would have only been worth about $500 more. All the money is at the final table and you're never going to get there if you don't take some big risks!

Once we made the money I went broke right away. 78th place (I think that's where I finished) paid $910 gross. I'm happy to have another PLO cash under my belt and I had fun playing this tournament. I also picked up about $700 playing cash games on pokerstars today so all in all I'm feeling pretty good.

Hopefully I can take one of the zillion tournaments I'm going to play tomorrow to the house!

If You Blinked You Missed It!

I just went from 5,000 chips to 25,000 chips in two hands! Actually in the course of 6hands I was all in for put someone all in 4 times. On the first I went from 10,000 down to 5,000 with AK98 vs JT56. I flopped the nut flush draw and my opponent flopped a pair of sixes. I bet the pot and he reraised the pot on what I'm sure he thought was a bluff. I missed and he made two pair.

The next hand was nothing, but on the third hand I got all my chips in preflop with KQQ2 double suited vs the same guy who had AKJT double suited in the other suits. We both totall missed and the QQ in my hand was good enough to win. That one felt like a miracle, but the next one was even sweeter.

I had 7655 and just called the big blind which was 240. My buddy from the previous hands made it 1,080 to go and got called by one player behind him. I called as well and the flop came down 842. This was a great flop for me since any 3, 5, 6 or 7 made me a straight and it likly missed my opponents. I bet the pot which was about 3,600 and my buddy instanly went all in for about 4,000. This was a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE move on his part. When the cards got turned over he had AKJ4 which was just a pair of fours with no draws whatsoever! I know I'd been pretty aggressive in the past few minutes but come on dude!

Amazingly the other player in the hand went all in for about 10,000! And all he had was a pair of eights! He had T986 with 2 spades and 2 diamonds (there was one of each on the flop). It was like all of a sudden these fools decided we were playing for nickels at the kitchen table instead of a five hundred dollar tournament!

Anyway, the turn and river were both deuces which made me a full house with my 55. Those of you who are only familier with hold'em might be thinking "Why didn't fool #2 win? Isn't his best hand 22288 while your's is 22255?" The key here is you have to use EXACTLY TWO cards from your hand making his best five card hand 2288T. That hand put me up to 25,000 chips.

The next hand was nothing, but on the following hand I took out fool #2. I had A552 and he hand KKj4. On the flop I hit trip deuces, check raised him all in and he called. He missed the K and was done. That one put me at 32,000.

While I've been writing this post I have been blowing suckers away left and right! I'm up to 50,000 chips and am in 5th place of 218.

FTOPS Event #6 Underway!

We started today's $535 Pot Limit Omaha 6 handed tournament with 642 players. This is good news because fulltilt guaranteed a prize pool of $350,000. 642 times $535 is $343,470. While this isn't exactly a huge overlay it means we're all playing juice free (instead of paying $35 a player)and they've added about $10 a person on top of that.

I have about 50% more chips than I started with and we're down to 490 players. I like my table. There's one player who seems pretty good and is very aggressive, but he's just to my right so I have position on him. Everyone else seeems pretty weak. Amazingly everyone at my table is from a different country (if you hold the cursor over a player it tells you what country they are from)! The countries represented are Spain, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Italy and of course the USA. Technology is amazing. To think that were in 6 different countries competing in a game that requires instant action blows my mind a little.

84th is the edge of the money and pays a little over $900 while 1st place is $75,250. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday Tournament Extravaganza Preview!

Sunday's are the busiest day in the online poker world. As a result the websites tend to put their flagship tournaments on Sunday. It looked like I was going to be busy this Sunday and unable to play, but my plans have changed and I've decided to do some heavy tournament playing.

In addition to the two FTOPS tournaments which are $256 NL Hold'em 6-max and $322 NL hold'em (there's a 1.5 million dollar guaranteed prize pool for that one!) I'm going to play "The Sunday Majors" and a few other tournaments on pokerstars. Here is my pokerstars Sunday schedule(all times are pacific)

9:45 $215 NL Hold'em ($750,000 guaranteed prize pool)
10:45 $215 Razz
1:30 $215 NL Hold'em ($1.5M guaranteed prize pool)
2:15 $215 Mixed Hold'em (1/2 limit and 1/2 NL)
2:30 $530 NL Hold'em ($500,000 guaranteed prize pool)
3:30 $215 NL Hold'em ($250,000 guaranteed prize pool)
4:45 $215 HORSE! (they should just pay me now)
5:30 $215 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
5:45 $215 7-card Stud

Sort of like a mini WCOOP huh? Those last two are maybes. I'll have to see how I'm feeling when 5:30 rolls around, but I figured I'd put them on the schedule.

I certainly don't plan to do a post about all of these tournaments, but I'll at least let you know where I finished and of course if I go deep I'll post a more detailed recap. That is after I spend a few minutes pouring champagne over my head and screaming like a little girl when I win one of the tournaments with a 1.5M guarantee.

Friday, November 07, 2008

FTOPS X Event #4 ($322 NLH 1R + 1A) Recap

Today's tournament was a total dud! I lasted a little more than two hours and never had more chips than I started with. I won a few small pots here and there, but it was mostly a fold fest. In the end I was running a little short and made a thin all in reraise and got caught by a real hand. I finished 400th out of 815.

My social life is going to stop me from playing the 6 pm tournament today, but I have $535 6 handed Pot Limit Omaha tomorrow. Since apparently I'm the PLO king I'm looking forward to it.

FTOPS Event #3 Underway

Sorry for the lack of a preview! Event #3 is no $322 no limit hold'em with 1 rebuy and 1 add on. Basically it's a $922 NL hold'em with deep stacks. Looks like about 800 players. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

FTOPS X Event #2 ($256 Omaha Knockout) Recap

I have to admit that while I made copious notes about specific hands in this tournament, the details of pot limit Omaha hands don't stick in my brain quite as well as hold'em hands do.

What I can tell you is that I had all of my chips at risk several times early in the tournament. In one instance I got it all in with 9743 vs QJxx (The xx denotes two cards which are irrelevant) with the QJ both being diamonds on a flop of 974 all diamonds. Happily the turn was a 7 and I won a major pot with a full house vs a flush.

In another instance I was all in with AA67 vs KK55 and vs a short stack with J966. The flop came with a K, but I turned an A and rived a flush to boot! That pot put me in first place with about 30,000 chips and roughly a third of the starting field left. I wouldn't drop out of the top 3 chip positions until we were down to two tables!

The edge of the money was 135 players and paid a little over $300. But by the time we were down to that many players I'd already busted 8 opponents netting me $320 in knockout dollars. Since I was in such good shape I kept the pressure on by raising often and following through with big bets on the flop regardless of what type of hand I made.

Experience was key in this tournament. Not in Omaha, (I've played maybe 15 PLO multitables in my life), but in tournaments where it's a big deal to just about everyone who is playing, but me. At one point with around 60 players left I had close to 250,000 chips and 6 of the other players at my table had 30,000-50,000. They all knew that if they confronted me and won they'd double up but I'd still be in great shape so they couldn't hurt me. But if they tangled with me and lost, then they'd be done. Even if they go in with the best hand they could still go broke. Whereas if they just fold they can't go broke. Meanwhile, I'm building my stack vs scared opponents who don't want to go broke.

18th-16th place paid a little over $1,000, 15th-13th paid $1,444 and 12th-10th paid $1,980. I felt like if I could make it into the top 12 I'd be somewhat satisfied with my result. Adding in all the knockouts it would be a fair payoff.

When we got down to 15 players or so I stared to slip. I found myself with only an average stack for the first time since the early minutes of the tournament.

But I still had fearlessness on my side! I put my head on the chopping block more than a few times, but my opponents either folded or I had the best hand and ended up dragging big pots.

There wasn't much suspense as we went from 15 to 12 to 9 players quicker than I expected. I had about an average stack as we reached the final table. On the first hand after losing player number 10 I got dealt KK52 double suited and raised about 2.5 times the big blind from early position. I got called in two places. ACK!

While this was an OK hand it was not great and as the flop came down I couldn't help but think of my 9th place finish at my last significant final table in the $215 with rebuys event in this year's WCOOP.

The flop came garbage and I bet half the pot. After agonizing thought my opponents both folded. 9th place was worth $3,495 and when the first player went broke at the final table I was guaranteed at least $4,893.

Oddly there was one significant chip leader who had 1.6 million chips while every other player was between 500k and 750K (I had about 600K)

Again my aggressiveness worked to my advantage as I ran my stack up to 900K through blind steals, preflop reraises and small pokes at small pots.

With 7 players left I took a major sting. I was dealt Q965 in the big blind and after the button limped in for 50K and the small blind called we took the flop 3 way. I bet the pot and called a big raise with top pair and and open ended straight draw when the flop came down Q74. But I was up against JT77 and after a Q on the turn and a 3 on the river I was down to 300K. DOUBLE ACK!

I picked up a few small pots and then I caught a big break. I got it all in preflop with AK76 vs AK97. Notice that the only card that is different in our hands is the 6 and the 9. Well the flop came with not one, but TWO sixes and I was back up to 900K! AH HA!

The 7th place player went broke and took home $6,757 and all of a sudden a calm came over me. 6th place paid $10,485 and once I had that locked up I knew I'd feel fine about whatever happened.

Playing a final table with tens of thousands on the line is exhilarating, exciting, terrifying, tiring, miserable and wonderful all at the same time. I'd been tense ever since we got down to about 20 players. If I'd been in last with 20 left I would have felt totally normal knowing that I did my best and the breaks just didn't fall my way. Being in the top 3 with 20 left I knew that it would be a major disappointment to not win some big cash. So when we got down to 6 and it was an assured $10,000+ payday I felt like I was freerolling from that point on.

The 6th place player went broke and was quickly followed by the 5th place finisher who made $14,282 for his efforts.

Then the tournament became a bit of a struggle. I was all over the place. I started 4 handed play with about a million chips. We all sparred a little for a dozen hands and then I made a move. I got almost all of my chips in vs an opponent I barely had covered with AQJ8 vs AK83. The flop came with an A and an 8 on it and I was focused on the fact that we were both probably going to have the same hand. As the turn came a T and the river a 9, it took me until just before the chips came my way to see that I'd made a straight! BOOM! 2 million chips baby!

Then I totally tanked! I dropped 200K here and 300K there and before I knew it I was down to 500K facing 3 opponents who each had more than a million chips!

At this point my notes and my memory have failed me a little. But I can tell you that I came back! I can also tell you that the player who went broke in 4th took home $18,931 and that he was quickly joined in the land of the busted by the player who took down $23,591 for 3rd place!

And then there were just two of us. My opponent had about 4 million chips to my 2 million and I can say for sure that while I felt great about how I'd played up until that point, I don't know a damn thing about playing heads up PLO. I decided to just get crazy aggressive and let the chips fall where they may. Almost immediately I flipped the stacks and had him 4 million to 2 million. In fact I actually had him all in and was ahead on the turn, but he had a ton of outs and connected on the river. I went broke a few hands later.

But (and it's a BIG but) 2nd place paid $32,620!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As a little cherry on top I busted 16 players which at $40 a player is another $640. Subtract the buy in and it was a net profit of $33,004!

The good news and the bad news is that I've sold an even 50% of my action for the FTOPS. It's bad news in the sense that it's only (HA HA, only!) $16,500 for me. It's good news in the sense that the 50% is split amongst about 10 family members and friends and I'm thrilled to bring home the bacon for my backers. I feel even better since if I had all of my own action I almost certainly wouldn't have played this event. First place was a little over $50,000 and while it would have been nothing short of wonderful to had the title and the extra money, in conclusion I have to say, THIRTY THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS BABY!!!!!

FTOPS Event #2 Underway!

We started event #2 $256 Pot Limit Omaha Knockout with 1,165 players and a first place prize of a little over $50,000. After one hour of play I'm off to a great start. I have my starting stack of 5,000 chips up to 11,600.

In the key hand so far I was dealt KKQQ on the button and raised the pot (the blinds were 25/50). I got called by the small blind and the big blind and the flop came down Q83 with two clubs. My opponents checked and I bet about 3/4 of the pot. After some thought the big blind check raised me the max which was about 2,700. He only had 1,000 more and since I had the total nuts (for the moment) I put him all in. When the cards got turned over I saw he had AA33 with the A3 of clubs.

I was really surprised to see this hand since I would have expected a pot sized reraise with AA and any two other cards preflop (AA and any two other cards is a favorite over any hand that doesn't have the other two aces with one or two exceptions like 89TJ double suited) let alone AA33 with a suited ace.

I managed to dodge the clubs and the remaining two aces in the deck and took down a nice pot. In addition since this is a knockout tournament I won an instant $40 for busting another player (I think that spin on things is very cool!).

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NEW BANNER ADD!

Click on my new banner add for fulltiltpoker.com and create an account! If you do I'll get 20% of the rake that you pay the website for the life of your account. Pretty amazing huh?

FTOPS X Event #1 ($216 NL 6-Max) Recap

We started this tournament with 5,000 chips and a few hundred more players than the 5,000 required to meet the guarantee. (I didn't really proofread this post so sorry about any typos!)

At times in this tournament I played great and at others, not so much. Maybe my biggest mistake came early and worked out in my favor. On the turn I got all my chips in with AQ vs KK on a QJT2 board. I knew my opponent was strong and given the board there really wasn't much I could beat. It was really a moment of pure stupidity. But I spiked a king on the turn which lead to a very early double up.

I got it up to 12,500 and then slipped back down to 7,000 or so when the following hand (you could call it hand of the day #2) came up. I've forgotten the exact blinds since full tilt has all sort of ridiculous limits (like 60/120 or 160/320 blinds) but one player limped for something like 150 and a player on the button who had been very active preflop made it 600. In fact this guy had it up to 40,000+, but was down about 20,000 and seemed to be on tilt.

I picked up AT in the big blind and decided to make a strong play. Specifically I decided to reraise before the flop and then go all in on the flop no matter what came. So I made it 1,800, got called, put my hand over the cards so I couldn't see the flop, and moved all in for a little over 5,000.

I saw that I'd been called before I saw what cards had come on the flop, but when I finally looked I saw that the flop was A 8 5 and I'd been called by Q8! That certianly looked like a couple of tilt calls to me!

At my peak I had it up close to 20,000, but then I went down the tubes. I had a guy call a big bluff on the turn and a huge bluff on the river with A5 no pair. I couldn't believe it. Then I lose some more chips with KQ vs a short stack who had AT.

On the final hand I got it all in with A6 vs 66. I made a thin call preflop, but 66 was at the very top of the range of hands I thought my opponent could have given the action and I didn't manage to get what I needed to win the hand.

Tomorrow I have $256 PLO knockout at 11 am and $530 NL triple shootout at 6 pm.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

FTOPS Event #1 Preview!

Event #1 in the FTOPS X is $216 NL Hold'em 6 handed. It starts at 6 pm pacific so I'm guessing most of you won't be awake to see it if I make the money. Fulltilt has guaranteed a $1,000,000 prize pool so we should be looking at at least 5,000 players although it would be great if there were fewer.

For those of you who want to watch the action live you can download the software at www.fulltiltpoker.com.

They have a search feature much like pokerstars so it should be easy to hunt me down. Since I created this account a loooooong time ago I have a different username. Instead of being acesedai, I'm wes1279 on fulltilt. Let me know if you have any trouble finding me and I can put up more detailed instructions.

If you don't have a fulltilt account, but are thinking of creating one. Hold off for a day or so and I'll have a banner add that you can click on which will lead to potential minor profits for me!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

SORRY!

Sorry about the lack of posts! I had a bad day or two and just didn't feel like posting and then I had to get ready for vacation and now I am on vacation. My son Peyton, my wife Jen, and I are spending two days in Orange county with her parents, one day in San Diego with my Dad and step mom, and one day in Vegas (Peyton is staying with his Jen's parents for that part of the trip).

I was certainly ready for a vacation after the forty days of pain. I earned about 90% of the points I set out to earn and got myself all but on pace for the year. Unfortunately after a blazing start that had me ahead close to $7,000 at one point I actually lost a few bucks in game play and it took the $4,000 FPP bonus that I cleared to make the stretch profitable at all.

Even though I didn't feel like I was playing all that poorly, I was certainly tired towards the end and I don't think I was playing my best. Also I think I was pushing the limits of the number of games I can play at once and expect to make a solid profit.

Luckily my $8,000 bonus for making it to 800,000 points on the year will be in my account soon (even though technically it's a bonus for making it to 800,000 points, you have to earn another 40,000 in the following 120 days to actually get the money) and I'm close to enough FPPs for another $4,000 FPP bonus. So really all is well.

The FTOPS starts on the 5th of this month so lookout for many posts in the near future. I'll try to put up a preview of event #1 before I play it, but I can't make any promises!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hand of the Day #1

While I know my friends and family (the ones who read the blog anyway) are always interested in my results, I've been thinking I need to put a little more meat on the table for my poker savy readers. My plan is to start putting up a hand of the day. It's not going to be every single day or even every single day that I play, but hopefully it will be most days. While ideally I'd like there to be some sort of lesson or tidbit of knowledge conveyed with each hand, sometimes it will just be a forum for me to vent about how unlucky I got on a major hand or perhaps describe something unusual.

Here's the story of a hand that I played today in a 6 handed $10/$20 limit game. I was on the button with AT off suit and I came in for a raise to $20. The small blind three bet it and the big blind came along. With AJ or against one aggressive opponent I probably would have capped it, but I didn't know anything about the players I was against other than not recognizing their names so I decided to see the flop and go from there.

The flop came down T 7 6 rainbow which I figured was a great flop for me. The small blind, who was the original three bettor, fired out and the big blind called. I raised to $20, the small blind made it $30 and the big blind called again.

When I saw the flop I thought it was very likely I had the best hand. Now I was pretty sure the small blind had either an over pair, a set or also had AT. I didn't have a good feel for what the big blind might have, but it felt like over cards, or a hand like T9 or A7. I didn't think I was ahead, but for only $10 there was no way I could fold without seeing the turn.

The turn was a wonderful card - an ace! Now I had top two and I was almost sure I had the best of it. The small blind bet again, the big blind just called again and I raised to $40. I was worried I might lose one of them with the raise, but they both called.

The river was another beauty - another ace! Now I was just praying they had enough to call. But to my delight the small blind bet out again and the big blind called again! I didn't care what they had since I had the nuts. I raised and they both called. When the hands got turned over I was surprised by one hand and shocked by the other.

It turned out the small blind had A8 and the big blind hand TT!!! The small blind bet every round with the worst hand of the three of us (in fact the reraised with the worst of it before on on the flop) and the big blind just called on all four betting rounds when I would have raised every time I had the chance with his hand! Not capping it before the flop with TT is weak but forgivable, not raising on the flop is a pretty good spot for a slow play so that's ok, but not putting in a raise on the turn or the river with second set and then a full house is criminal. It turns out he lost less, but it was really poor play.

For me the hand obviously worked out great. Any guesses as to how dead I was on the flop? 2% to win? 1%? WRONG! Before the flop I was 13% to win and 6% to tie. Not what you want, but not a flat line. After the flop I was .11% to win! That's over 900 to 1! I'll try to remember this hand and the $417 that came my way the next time I get really screwed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

FTOPS Schedule

For those of you interested in exactly what I'm going to be playing in the FTOPS here is the schedule (sorry for the goofy format and extra garbage - it was cut and paste job). My plan is to play everything except for the events on November 9th (I have plans for that day), the stud/8 event, the heads up matches, and the $5,000 event (I'll probably play a few satellites to the $5,000 event and play if I win a seat). Like the WCOOP my goal is 4 cashes and 1 final table.

For those of you wondering what a "knockout" tournament is let me tell you! The way it works is for every player you eliminate you win a certain dollar amount. Whether they have 1 chip or 1,000,000 chips it's the same prize for eliminating them. For example for every entry into the $256 PLO Knockout, $16 goes to the house, $200 goes to the main prize pool and $40 goes to whoever knocks that player out. Eliminate 3 players and you win $120. Bust 50 and you win $2,000. It adds a little extra fun to the tournament and I'm looking forward to these type of events.


Note that the number at the end of each event description is the prize pool guarantee.


Event #1
Wednesday
Nov 5th
21:00 ET
$200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
6-Max $1M

Event #2
Thursday
Nov 6th
14:00 ET
TBA $240 + $16
PL Omaha
Knockout $200K

Event #3
Thursday
Nov 6th
21:00 ET
TBA $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em
3 x Shootout $300K

Event #4
Friday
Nov 7th
14:00 ET
TBA $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em
1 rebuy and 1 add-on $600K

Event #5
Friday
Nov 7th
21:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
Limit Hold'em
6-Max $150K

Event #6
Saturady
Nov 8th
14:00 ET
TBA $500 + $35
PL Omaha
6-Max $350K

Event #7
Saturday
Nov 8th
16:00 ET
TBA $100 + $9
NL Hold 'em
Rebuy $600K

Event #8
Sunday
Nov 9th
14:00 ET
TBA $240 + $16
NL Hold 'em
Knockout
6-Max $600K

Event #9
Sunday
Nov 9th
18:00 ET
TBA $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em $1.5M

Event #10
Monday
Nov 10th
14:00 ET
TBA $300 + $22
Mixed
Hold 'em $250K

Event #11
Monday
Nov 10th
21:00 ET
TBA $1,000 + $60
NL Hold 'em $1.5M

Event #12
Tuesday
Nov 11th
14:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
HA (half PL Hold 'em, half PL Omaha) $150K

Event #13
Tuesday
Nov 11th
21:00 ET
TBA $500 + $35
HORSE $300K

Event #14
Tuesday
Nov 11th
21:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
Turbo $500K

Event #15
Wednesday
Nov 12th
14:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
PL Omaha/8 $150K

Event #16
Wednesday
Nov 12th
21:00 ET
TBA $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em
6-Max
Rebuy $1M

Event #17
Thursday
Nov 13th
14:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
4 x Shootout
6-Max $250K

Event #18
Thursday
Nov 13th
21:00 ET
TBA $300 + $22
Razz $150K

Event #19
Friday
Nov 14th
14:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em $400K

Event #20
Friday
Nov 14th
21:00 ET
TBA $200 + $16
Stud/8 $100K

Event #21
Saturday
Nov 15th
14:00 ET
TBA $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em
Heads Up $500K

Event #22
Saturday
Nov 15th
14:00 ET
TBA $5,000 + $200
NL Hold 'em
Two Day Event
6-Max $2M

Event #23
Saturday
Nov 15th
16:00 ET
TBA $100 + $9
PL Omaha
Rebuy $400K

Event #24
Sunday
Nov 16th
14:00 ET
TBA $120 + $9
NL Hold 'em
Knockout $500K

Main Event
Sunday
Nov 16th
18:00 ET
TBA $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em $2.5M

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

40 Days of Pain - Day 31

Last weekend I cracked and took a full day off. It felt really good.

I don't feel like playing every day is having a profoundly adverse effect on my play, but I have really been struggling lately. In fact in October I've only made about $1,700 and I cashed in $4,000 in FPPs so that means I've actually lost $2,300 in game play.

The summer was INSANELY profitable and I've got more than enough money in reserve to have a few losing months in a row so having sort of a weak winning month is no big deal. It just sucks to have a bunch of losing days! In fact I've had 13 losing days in the past 21! ACK!

It's amazing how when I'm winning day after day it seems so easy. It feels like my opponents have no chance at all and it's just a matter of time before I get their chips. And then during runs like this it feels like all of my bluffs are getting called, all of my draws are missing, and I keep crashing face first into sets and five card hands.

The good news is that it WILL turn around. Not might. Not Maybe. I could break off five +$2,000 days in a row and make this a great month. That's the attitude you have to have when things haven't been going great.


Tomorrow is day 297 of 366 in 2008. That means there is 19.12% of the year left. Right now I'm at 790,061 points for the year, meaning I have 20.99% of my year's work load left to do.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FTOPS X

The subject line of this post looks like pure gibberish, but as I'm sure you've guessed it's an acronym! In fact it stands for "Full Tilt Online Poker Series 10" which is a series of tournaments that will be running from November 5th until November 16th. This is sort of the WCOOP analog on fulltiltpoker.com and is kind of like the WCOOP's little brother.

They run this series twice a year and while it carries less prestige than the WCOOP, it still has some. The tournaments will have smaller fields than the WCOOP, but they'll still be pretty big. And in general the buy ins are a little less. There are going to be 25 events and 22 of them have buys ins between $129 and $535. By Contrast 9 of the 33 events in the WCOOP had buys ins (or effective buy ins in the rebuys tournaments) of $1,000+.

After a brief look at the schedule my plan is to play somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 in tournaments. The one I really have my eye on is $535 HORSE. If you want to check out the full schedule you can do so here.

While I won't be selling a big piece of my action I will be selling a splash. I'll be sending an e-mail to my usual backers in the near future.

Shifting gears, you may have noticed my new banner ad. I'm never one to pass up an easy buck and I'm hoping this banner ad might just lead to a few. If anyone clicks on my ad and signs up for an account on pokerstars I get a piece of the money that pokerstars makes from them for the life of their account.

So if any of you out there in blog land have been thinking of diving into the online poker world or are thinking of joining pokerstars after playing on other websites, please do it by clicking on my add! If you do so and let me know via e-mail I'll even give you a free 90 minute poker lesson over the phone! That's somewhere between a $15 and $300 value (even though I've given a few lessons for money I have no idea what they're worth on the open market)!

I have no idea what percentage of the rake we're talking about here and the only reason I did this in the first place was my friend Matt Lessinger asked me to. He wanted to do it himself, but he doesn't have a website. Anyway one of the players who he gives lessons to is going to be switching from another site to pokerstars and since Matt had experience with this type of thing in the past (on now defunct poker websites). He suggested that I set it up and give him the money that this one fellow brings in.

What do I get out of that arrangement? NOTHING! But you do favors for a guy who won you $5,000 a few months ago.

For those of you out there that are particularly enterprising (for example, Kristen!), if you get someone to sign up via my banner ad I'll split any money I make off of your referrals 50/50. So tell your friends!

I would give it at least a 60% chance that I never see a dime from that ad other than what Matt's guy brings in, but it didn't cost me anything and wasn't hard to set up so who cares!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

40 Days of Pain - Day 21

I played for a little while early today to keep my steak of consecutive days going, but I've finally gotten to the point where I needed to take most of a day off. Luckily I put in some major points last week so I'm still in good shape.

I have 19 days left to go and need to earn 92,000 more points to make my goal, having earned 103,000 points in 21 days so far.

I had a bit of a bad run losing 5 or 6 days starting last Sunday, but the largest of them was $1,300 and after a $2,400 win yesterday I'm still ahead of where I expected to be in terms of profit.

In other news I've taken on a protege of sorts. My sister in law Kristen has a friend (also named Kristen) who wants to quit her job and be a professional poker player or sorts. She is in a great situation since she's currently working part time (her husband is the main bread winner) and only needs to win about $1,000 a month to make as much as she does working 25 hours a week at her job.

She had by far the biggest win of her career recently finishing second in an $11 tournament with 21,700 players (that's not a typo!) winning about $10,800. Clearly an amazing return on an $11 investment. Not surprisingly she's pretty gung ho about playing. We've made a deal where I'm going to give her lessons and she's going to give me 5% of her profits in 2009. Obviously I'm not doing this for the money, but she said she wanted to pay me something and this way if she runs into a big win I'll get a piece. If we have e-mails that might provide good blog material I'll post them. Here is one such exchange we had recently:

Lately I have had a strange run of "luck". I have been maintaining about 300$ in my account for over a month now and when It gets closer to 400$, I'll cash some out and so far have had about 350$ sent to me in smaller checks-I think I mentioned this before. Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, I lost a big hand at a cash table with pocket queens. It was at a 1$ 2$ table and I raised to 8$ pre-flop. I had one caller who was behind me, I was under the gun. The flop came 10-6-Q, all unsuited-beautiful! I was stoked and bet 10$ just trying to make a little bit more from him just hoping he made a pair or even tripped on the flop. He just called. a 2 feel on 4th, perfect....so i bet 22$ at this point, I felt like i was milking the guy. He just called again. a 7 fell on the river and i bet 36$ he pushed all in for 70$. I had a strange feeling that I might have just been beat by the most ridiculous player imaginable. I called and there it was: 8 9 off suit to wipe me out for over 100$! I was in awe that he would not only call a preflop raise with that hand and then call all the way down for a gut-shot! Is the anything I couldv'e done differently? I'll admit it took me a bit to shake that one, in fact, it probably cost me another 40$ or so not really having a clear head about things. A few days later I got dealt pocket kings in the bb and was left with one caller out of the blinds that had been playing fairly loosely. It seems that pocket kings have been the hand to knock me out o several tourneys lately so I decided not to deal with a possible risky situation so I raised it to 10$. He called. flop is 10-2-5 with 2 clubs. I bet the pot, he calls. a J falls on 4th, but not a club and i bet 30, hoping he hadn't called my preflop raise w-J-10 and if he had, i hoped to outdraw him on the river, he calls and at this point I'm fairly certain he either tripped, made his 2 pair or is really hoping for a 3rd club on the river. River brings an 8 or diamonds and I feel a little better, but jst in case of the 2 pair, I check, he moves all in for 56$-and I call, assuming he had in fact missed that club flush. In reality he had called he had 10 8 of spades! The river killed me. Another 100$+ loss that I felt I couldn't have done anything differently that got railroaded on the river. Is this just part of the game, or should I have played it some other way? Long story short, I had 5$ left in my account and played a 4$ 180 person tourney and came in 5th for 45$ and then played a 20$ single table s-n-g and came in 1st! for 90$ so my account is back over 100$ which I am pretty proud of after those 2 horrendous hands that cost me most of my $! I have the next 2 days off so hopefully I will get in some good playing time. Any suggestions for my cash game blunders is appreciated, as always. Thank you :0) talk to you soon-Kristen

Here is my reply:

I have answers to your questions! First of all let me say that this is just the type of e-mail I want you to write me. One of the best ways to learn is to discuss the merits of different ways to play certain hands.
The first thing that jumped out at me reading your e-mail is that your bankroll is a little (or a lot!) thin. I'm guessing you were playing on Ultimate bet or you cashed out almost all of that $10,000 you won?
$300-$400 isn't close to enough to ride out the swings at $1/$2 blinds NL. When I used to play NL cash games I would have something like 2,500 big blinds in reserve (which would be $5,000 for a $1/$2 game) and would cash out 500 big blinds when I got to over 3,000 in my account. That's not to say you absolutely have to have that much in your bankroll to play at that level, but you should think about trying to get your bankroll into AT LEAST the $1,000-$2,000 range. Otherwise you'll find yourself is just the spot you mentioned where you lose two or three big hands and then your account is empty.
As far as the hand with the QQ goes I think you played it right, but your impressions about the other player are a little off. One of the big differences between tournaments and cash games is everyone's chips stack is much larger compared to the size of the blinds. Most players have somewhere between 50-150 times the big blind in a cash game while in a tournament (other than the first few levels) an average stack might be something like 20-30 times the big blind.
When the stacks are deeper it makes more sense to call a raise or 3 or 4 times the big blind with a speculative hand like 98 suited once in a while hoping to hit the flop hard and maybe win 50-100 big blinds. Also for opponents that are paying attention it makes it much harder to put you on a hand if you play 89 the same way you might play AQ.
The big thing you missed was that 89 was a DOUBLE gutshot. A 7 or a J would have made him a straight. Given that he had 8 outs to a monster it makes it much more reasonable for him to call you down like he did.
With that said, you still played the hand very nicely. In no limit when you have a big hand and you suspect that your opponent is drawing you want to bet an amount that encourages them to make a mistake.
Let say you've played with this guy a million times and you're 99% sure he's drawing to 8 outs. How much should you bet? If you bet too little it's giving him the right price to call and draw, and if you bet too much he'll fold and you won't make anything with your set. On the flop there is $19 in the pot and he has about a 1 in 5 shot of hitting his straight on the turn. So anything more than $5 means he's not getting the right price to draw. You bet $10 meaning he was only getting about 3 to 1 when he needed 5 to 1 to see the next card. Seems like a good bet on your part.
Of course he knows he might make money on later streets if he hits so maybe it's worth the stretch for him even though he's not getting the right price.
On the turn it's similar, but this time he makes a big mistake You bet $22 into a $36 pot meaning he's getting something like 5 to 2 when he needs 5 to 1.
I might be making this too complicated. Let me just say that if you make a set and someone makes a not obvious straight you're going to go broke. If you don't go broke it means you're probably not making enough with your good hands. You bet the right amount the whole way and on the end when he hits your stuck. It just as easily could have been two pair or a smaller set or even AA or KK on a massive slowplay.
The only thing I might have done differently would be to check the river to induce a bluff. If I was in your shoes I would have thought he had KJ. That's hand where it makes sense for him to call before the flop (I'm not saying you should call early position raises with KJ - in fact you shouldn't, but people do it frequently), call the flop and the turn. If that's what he has then he's just going to fold on the end. But if you check he might make a desperate bluff and then you can nail him. If he has something else (like maybe AT) he might decide you don't have much and bet for value.
On to the hand with KK. It seemed in this one like you over bet it a little since you were worried about getting beat. You can't be afraid that someone is going to out draw you and start betting 1.5 or 2 times the pot. All you'll do is drive off the hands that you want calling you and get yourself totally stuck against the monster hands that have you beat. 99.9% of the time you don't want to bet more than the pot and rarely do you want to bet less than 1/2 the pot. Whether you're bluffing or have a made hand or a draw, somewhere in that range is almost always the optimal bet size.
If fact when I play NL cash games I always raise to three times the big blind if I'm going to play before the flop and I'm first in, no matter what my position (If I have one caller in front of me I make it 4X the bb, with two callers it's 5X the bb and so on). If I get 1 caller I bet 3/4 of the pot EVERY time on the flop. If I missed or hit, or the flop is 3 5 8 or AKQ all suited, it doesn't matter. I'm betting 3/4 of the pot. That way my opponents don't have any information about my hand. All they know is I chose to play before the flop. It make it really tough for them to read me.
Another thing is you want to be careful about always putting your opponent on the only reasonable hand that can beat you. There was really no reason to think he had JT and when the river came with an 8 there was no reason to think that helped him. Checking hoping he's going to bet a worse hand or a miss is fine, but I like betting again (about 1/2 the pot) in this spot hoping to get called by a ten. On the river you can go under the 1/2 pot bet size much more often. If you think your opponent has just a little something you might bet 1/4 of the pot hoping to get a call from second pair or maybe a missed draw that hit a weak pair.
Let me know if that made sense or if you have questions about my comments.
Nice work running that $5 back up to close to $100! I'm sure that was satisfying.