Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Testing the Waters

Last week was by far my best week of the year. Actually it was my best week since October of 2007 and if you cut that one out, you have to go all the way back to early 2006 to find a better 7 day stretch.

More important than the money I made was the fact that how I made it is very reproducible. I'm not saying that I'm going to run off $2,000 days a few times a week for the rest of the year, but winning day after day speaks more to future potential than having one big tournament win.

One of the nice things for me about playing after going on a nice run is not worrying about taking a significant loss. While I always sit down planning on and expecting to win, it's impossible to not let thoughts and fear of a big loss creep into my head from time to time. But when I've seen my account balance skyrocket in the previous few days I haven't really grown attached to that money yet. I rarely if ever get out of line with the risks I take, but If I get killed one day I can look back at where my balance was a few days earlier and still feel good about where I stand.

With all of that in mind, I've been testing the waters in the bigger 6-handed limit cash games. I've pretty much cut out playing the $5/$10 games and have instead gone to either all $10/$20 games or a mix of $10/$20 and $15/$30 games.

I've even dipped my little toe into the $30/$60 pool (I've played about 150 hands total in the past 3 days). $30/$60 is no joke. The average pot in a $30/$60 game is in the $300-$400 range and $1,000 pots are not completely uncommon.

The past two days I've had really nice results playing $30/$60 in small bursts. While that short of a span tells me next to nothing about what I could expect playing in the long term, it's still nice to win.

Yesterday I started off crazy hot in my normal games and was ahead over $2,000 before noon. Then I went totally down the toilet and found myself losing $1,000 towards the end of my day. Luckily I made a little surge at the end which included a $500 boost from a few made hands in the $30/$60 and ended up winning about $200 for the day.

Today I experienced similar but less drastic swing. I was up about $1,000 early then gave it all back plus some. Once again I made a late inning surge with a $500+ win in less than 20 hands of $30/$60 (I play about 500 hands and hour so 20 hands takes less time than a bathroom break).

The key hand was my second hand at the table (I was in a few other games and only playing one $30/$60). I picked up 44 in the small blind and when the button raised to $60 I reraised to $90. The big blind folded and the flop came down 9 4 2 giving me a set. I bet, my opponent raised and I made it three bets. At this point there was $390 in the pot, the turn came a ten and I bet out $60. My opponent quickly raised to $120, I made it $180, and he called.

Now there was $750 in the pot and while I was 98% sure I had the best hand, my heart was certainly beating a little faster than normal. The the river brought a Q, I bet $60 and got raised. ACK! I was worried that my opponent might have QQ, but I certainly couldn't fold for another $60 with $930 sitting out there in the pot. I called, my opponent showed QT and I took down a very nice pot.

In the coming days I expect to say in the $10/$20 games, but it's fun to push it a little and I can certainly see myself pushing the envelope a little in the near future.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Week To Remember

The past five days have been amazing. Not only have I not had a losing day, my worst day was an $800 win!!! I have been KILLING the $10/$20 games. This is great news not just because of the money I've been making, but it means I'll be able to earn points at a much faster rate.

Along those lines I've just crossed the 100,000 point mark for the year. This is the point at which you earn regular supernova status for the rest of the year. In 2006 the first year that pokerstars started their current rewards program it took me until the middle of June to earn 100,000 points. In 2007 it took until the middle of April.

Even though I've drastically improved my point generation over previous years I'm still behind pace. In order to be on pace I should have crossed the 100,000 point mark on February 7th and be at 123,000 points today. However, I'm not worried. While I can earn 1.05 points per hand on average playing $5/$10 games, I can earn about 1.4 points per hand playing $10/$20 games. While I haven't switched entirely to the larger games, a mix of two smaller and two larger games has been what's been producing my major success and about 1.25 points per hand on average.

Something interesting happened to me on Wednesday. I found myself up about $1,000 when I stopped for lunch and when I came back I browsed through the big games to see if anyone I knew was taking a shot at the big bucks. I didn't see any of my regular opponents, but in a 6 handed $50/$100 game I did see Money800 who I happen to know is 2003 WSOP main even winner Chris Moneymaker and a guy named AffleckKGB who I thought might be Ben Affleck. I happen to know that Ben Affleck is a very serious poker player, this guy was from Irvine (which is near Hollywood) and I don't know who would want to have a name like AffeckKGB with a picture of Ben Affleck other than Ben Affleck.

Anyway being so far ahead and given the chance to play against a former world Champion and a potential celebrity made it seem like I should sit down. There was one seat so I bought in for $2,000 and waited to get dealt in. On my first hand I was dealt AA in the big blind! "I am a fucking genius!" I thought to myself.

Someone raised and I three bet. The flop came K 2 4. I bet, got raised and three bet it. The turn was a 3, I bet got raised and just called. I was hoping I was up against a hand like KQ, but even though I liked my hand I still felt nervous. On the river (which was a J) I check called and my opponent showed A5 for a wheel. "FUCK! I AM AN IDIOT" I thought. That was a quick $600 out the window.

In full on moron mode now, I decided to play a few more rounds and actually got about half of that $600 back. Even more amazingly I kicked even more ass in my normal games and ended up winning a little more than $2,100 on the day.

If I can manage anything even remotely close to this level of success for anything longer than the short term, life is going to get a lot nicer in the Huff household.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Take That You Bastards!

Last weekend Jen and I left our son Peyton with one one his Grandmas and his Aunt Kristen while we spent a night in Napa wine tasting with our friends. We have a much longer trip (4 days, Peyton is coming on this one) to Lake Tahoe at the end of March in our plans. There were 45 days between these trips and I've set myself a few goals for this time period.

The main goal is to earn 140,000 points. This will put me at 225,000 points, a quarter of the way through the year. While I'd love to be on pace and at 250,000 points, I looked at the numbers and came up with a reasonable goal. The plan has always been to shift to higher limit games which generate more points as the year goes on so in a way being 22.5% of the way there 25% of the way through the year is on pace.

Of course it's critical that I at least break even during this stretch. At best I'm hopeing for 10 cents a hand which would net me $14,000 on top of the points and bonuses which are my main focus.

Another minor goal I have for myself during this stretch is to lose 10 pounds. Our cabin in Tahoe has a hot tub and I don't want to look like a tub myself when I'm sitting in it. I could see myself blowing this goal off, but I feel like any effort I make on this front won't be a waste and if I make any progress at all I'll be happy.

Mentally I set these goals for myself when I was cruising around in a limo, drinking fine wine, and enjoying life with my wife and good friends in Napa. On Monday I started implementing my plan and kicked off this project with a major bang.

On the first day of my new set of goals, I knocked out 4,200 points and I won a staggering $1,800. I played a mix of two $5/$10 games and two $10/$20 games and amazingly I killed the latter and struggled in the former. In fact I managed to win a little over $2,200 in the bigger games while losing the difference in the smaller games. However it happened, it was a fantastic start.

Today I started with the mindset that if I took a loss it would be fine since I'd had such a great day the day before. Amazingly I had an even better day! While I managed slightly fewer points (about 3,800) I won 33% more money ending up winning $2,400 on the day which was my best day so far this year! About 90% of my win came via the $10/$20 games. I'm not sure what it is, but I seem to be having an easier time with the slightly better players.

I don't think I've ever had two back to back days where I won at least $1,800 playing cash games in my entire career. If I can manage anything close to this level of success on a regular basis, I'll be driving a new Mercedes and living in a big ass new house by the end of 2009!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

9 Day Mini Challlenge Recap

After setting the goals of earning 25,000 points, working out 5 times and making $1,000 (before factoring in points of course) I barely missed one goal, came up embarrassingly short on another and blew one out of the water.

Sadly the workouts didn't happen. I worked out the first day and did another half assed one a few days later, but for the most part I totally blew this aspect off.

I did a little better points wise earning about 22,000. This wasn't quite what I wanted, but I found myself feeling totally brain dead a few times during the 9 days and I just couldn't quite pull it out. It's amazing how mental fatigue can build up in a period of days when you're actively thinking hard all day for many days in a row.

Of course the most important goal was the dollars and I did MUCH better than I was expecting. After my strong start I continued playing well and winning. All in all I won about $3,300 which was a little more than I'd lost in January.

While normally breaking even for a professional player is a disaster, in this case it's my goal since I'll end up earning $96,000 in bonuses by years end if I can make it to 1,000,000 points.

Right now I'm at 85,000 and I'm quickly falling behind. But not so far that I can't make up the difference. I'll outline my next set of mid range goals in my next post. For now I'm going plan on knocking out 20,000 points between Monday and Saturday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Excellent Progress!

I'm 3 days into my 9 day 25,000 point, $1,000, 5 workout mini goal challenge. So far things have been going great. While I've only done one workout and I'm only just over 6,000 points (it's always been the plan to do most of the heavy lifting Monday through Friday) I'm ahead a little over $2,200! After my $1,000 day on Thursday in limited action I knocked out a full work day yesterday picking up $600 in the last hour after being about even all day.

Today was another $600 day (those never get old) and I had something happen in a hand that I've never seen before. I raised before the flop with QQ, the player on the button three bet and I capped the betting at four bets. The flop was Q 8 6. BINGO! I went from having the third best starting hand (out of 169 possibilities) to having the absolute best possible hand on the flop. I bet, my opponent raised, I three bet and he capped it. At this point I figured he had either AA, KK, 88 or 66. The turn was another 6. I checked, he bet, I raised, he three bet and I capped it. Normally I would worry a little bit about him having 66 here, but not enough to slow down. The river was another perfect card. It was the last 6! The way the hand played out I knew there was no way he had the 4th 6. I still thought there was about a 90% chance that he had AA so I decided to check and hope that he would all of a sudden become confused about what I might have and bet. To my delight he bet instantly when I checked. I raised and to my shock he three bet! I capped it and he called with KK.

It's rare that you see someone overplay their hand to such a spectacular degree and I'm about 90% sure that this is the first time I've ever been in a hand where it was capped on all 4 betting rounds. I'm 100% sure this is the first time I've ever seen any two people cap the turn and the river when neither of them had the total nuts.

Hopefully this good run continues. After 3 good days in a row I'm feeling much better about my chances of being able to see this thing through to the end of the year.