Monday, May 26, 2008

A Sweet $64

Before I get into my post I want to wish a quick congratulations to one of my best and oldest friends Chris Wilhelmi on his recent engagement. Chris proposed to his girlfriend Sarah over the weekend during a trip to Yosemite and of course she said yes. I want to wish them all the best.

Now on to poker related stuff. For the majority of my day today I got totally stomped. Sometimes you play a session where you are connecting with plenty of flops, but your opponents just keep on getting whatever turn and river cards they need. Today was one of those days. Not only is is much more expensive than just getting shitty cards or having good starting cards miss the flop, but it's also a great deal more frustrating.

Feeling like you've got a hand won and then discovering that the clown you are up against hit a 10 to 1 shot is never fun. When it happens over and over and over again it can make you want to pull your hair our and in the worst cases take you off your game.

I'd been playing a mix of two $15/$30 and two $10/$20 games all day and by the time I was ready to take my lunch break I was down about $2,000. I was feeling like giving up for the day, but I took a long break and after about 90 minutes I was ready to give it another shot. 20 minutes later I was down another $500 and decided to call it a day. I went and shot some hoops, took a shower and played with my son for a few minutes.

Even though I've had plenty of sessions where I've won $2,500 in my career when you're down that much it can feel like you're never going to get it back. Even a big pot at $15/$30 is about $500, usually at least a third of that money was money you put in the pot so it's not all profit, and pots of that size are few and far between. When you're winning much more pedestrian $200 pots (which don't exactly grow on trees) where half of the money in the pot was your's to begin with you can see how it feel like it's going to take forever to pick up $2,500.

Happily, even though I'd decided to call it quits for the day I was once again feeling OK. I opted to play a little more with the thinking that if I dropped another $500 (which would put me at -$3,000 for the day) I'd be done for sure and if I managed to pull back even a few hundred it would leave me feeling a little better about the day.

Well instead of my opponents getting whatever turn and river cards that they wanted, I was the one getting the magic cards. I quickly got back $1,500 and thought about stopping. After all -$1,000 is not a major loss and something I could easily get back tomorrow. But I liked the games I was in and decided to keep on playing. I picked up another $500 and though a little harder about quitting. But I kept on playing.

When I was within $100 of even I said enough is enough and decided to get up after playing to my blinds. Luckily in one of those last few hands I picked up pocket aces, won a nice pot and ended the day with a $64 profit. It was a very sweet $64 win.

Also of note, I played against 2003 World Champion Chris Moneymaker in one of my $15/$30 games for about an hour (during the stretch that I was winning). You might wonder what a former WSOP main event winner is doing playing $15/$30 and I don't have a good answer for you other than he is probably the worst poker player of any world champion ever and he's more of a tournament specialist. I've seen him playing the 6 handed games a few times, but he's usually in the $50/$100 (where I played him once before) or the $100/$200. Anyway I always think it's cool to play against poker celebrities and in this case I certainly got the best of him. Not only did I take him off a few pots with bluffs, but I also snapped off a few of his bluff attempts with weak hands and at the very least held my own in pots where we both had real hands. It felt pretty good.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Being Stupid

I did something stupid yesterday. I did something that novice and amateur players are constantly doing, but what I and most other pros almost never do. I moved up limits to try to get even.

On Monday I had the $2,300 win I mentioned in my last post. On Tuesday I was ahead $3,000 at one point and ended up booking a $1,500 win which I followed up the next day with an uneventful $600 loss.

When I sat down yesterday I was feeling pretty good and jumped into four $10/$20 games. In no time I was ahead $1,500 and expecting to have a major kick ass day. But then my profits slowly drained away. When I took my lunch break about 2/3 of the way through my working day I was ahead a must less exciting $300.

When I came back from lunch I quickly fell below even and in a matter of a few hundred hands I was down over $1,000. At this point I was not thinking about the fact that $1,000 is not that big a loss for me these days. I was not thinking that if I quit right then I'd still be ahead $3,200 for the past four days. I was thinking about the fact that I'd been ahead $1,500 earlier that day and not only was I not going to book the big win that I wanted, but I was actually going to have a significant loss.

I knew I wasn't in the best state of mind to play and the best thing for me would be to quit. But instead I did the exact opposite. I decided to play some $30/$60. I left all but one of the $10/$20 games I was in and substituted one $15/$30 and one $30/$60.

A short while into the play at the $30/$60 I picked up KK in the big blind. AH HA! Now is my chance to get back some dough! A player who I knew could be raising a wide range of hands (I had a note on him that identified him as a very loose $5/$10 player) raised from the button and I made it $90 to go. He capped the betting at $120 and the flop came down Q T 5. I check raised and he three bet me.

At this point even though I knew my opponent was loose he was still showing massive strength and I thought there was about a 80% chance he had either had AA, QQ or AQ. My hand was way to strong to fold, but I decided my best course of action would be to just call him down. The turn was a blank and the river was another Q. Ack! The only worse river in my mind would have been an A and now I couldn't beat any of the hands I thought my opponent likely to have. But given the fact that there was almost $600 in the pot and it only cost me another $60 to call I had to call his bet on the river. He turned over AQ and took the pot.

So far so bad. I told myself that if I got down $2,000 for the day I'd call it quits. Luckily I managed to make a few hands. In fact I destroyed a guy who I happen to know is a regular $200/$400 player! While I was losing to other players I was beating the pants of that guy in hand after hand.

After an hour or so I was back to about even for the day and jumped ship. The problem is it was still stupid for me to play so big when I knew I wasn't in the best state of mind. Poker is all about focusing on making good decisions not about what the results turn out to be. In the long run good decisions will lead to profits and bad decisions will lead to losses. In this case I made a bad decision and I just got lucky that it didn't cost me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Solid Day

I booked a nice win today playing nothing but $10/$20 games. After a string of minescule or moderate wins and losses it felt great to make some real money.

My plan was to play enough to earn 5,000 points today and each of the next 3 days. Of course since I've had precicely zero days so far this year where I've earned that many points I don't know why I thought it would be no problem. I woke up early (about 8 - super early for me) and managed to knock out 2,000 points winning $600 before having a late breakfast around noon. So far so good.

When I came back all hell broke loose. In my first 100 hands I was up $900 more and by the time I hit 250 hands (about a half an hour of play), I'd made $2,300 post breakfast and was up $3,000 for the day! During that stretch I'd won 26 of 31 hands that had gone to the showdown and won 31 pots without showdown. Par for the course is winning about 50%-55% of pots at showdown and one in every ten or so without showdown so I was clearly running really hot.

Then I had a big reversal. I dropped about $1,300 in 150 hands winning only 2 of 15 pots at showdown. I decided to take a short break, make some tea and then get back to business. I made a little progress and ended up taking lunch winning about $1,900.

Around 5:30 I was about 1,000 points short of my 5,000 point goal for the day, but I found myself ahead $2,300 so I decided to quit. I probably should have kept playing, but if I'd given back most or even just a big chunk of that money I wouldn't have been able to sit down tomorrow with the positive attitude that I expect to have.

My goal now is to earn 14,000 points in the next three days. That will put me at 380,000 for the year and since my wife Jen and I are making an overnight trip to Napa on Friday and Saturday, I need to earn some major points. Even with that once I come back I'm going to have to earn 40,000 in 10 days in order to hit my 420,000 goal before I head to Vegas. I don't know why I'm talking to you people I need to get to work!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May So Far

May has been an unusual month for me. I was in Maryland where I grew up for my good friend Brian Ridgeway's wedding from the 5th to the 12th so I've fallen a little behind in my point production. While I was there, however I discovered that a good chunk of the Ridgeway clan as well as some of my friends from high school have been reading this blog. I like readers!

Here I was thinking that Tom from the census (Hey Tom), my sister, and sister in law were the only ones reading this blog. But it turns out that there are other people out their neglecting their work duties and/or families to read virtual nonsense about FPPs, massive quantities of complaining about bad luck, and stories about people who may or may not be Ben Affleck. What's wrong with you people?

Anyway in the 5 days since my return from MD I've had some general frustration, but I've also had money flying into my pockets from strange sources. As far as the general frustration goes here's the story. In my five days of play I've been ahead at least $1,000 every day, but haven't had any four digit wins. In fact I've had three roughly break even days, one -$1,500 day and a +$700 day. I feel like someone is slipping kryptonite under my chair every day at noon everyday. I could be worse and I have been racking up the FPPs so it hasn't been a total waste of time.

Now on to the money coming to me in weird ways. Here are two e-mails I got this week from Pokerstars:

PokerStars has become aware of two players who were in violation of
our poker room rules. You were involved in one or more hands with
these players. Based on a rollback of hands in which you may have
been harmed, your account has been credited $70.00.

Due to our privacy policy we are not at liberty identify the specific
games or players in question. After careful review we have
permanently closed the accounts in question. In addition we have
implemented measures to prevent these individuals from playing on the
site using any other account.

Here's the second one:


In recognition of the inconvenience you have suffered with the delay in receiving your eCheck cashout we have credited your account with a bonus of 20% of the requested cashout amount. This amounts to a credit of $400.00 for your $2000.00 eCheck cashout requested on 04-May-08. This credit can be found in your PokerStars Cashier History as "eCheck compensation".

Score! The first e-mail had a subject line of "account credit" and I was hoping that would be more than $70, but the second one was totally out of left field. Pokerstars has the best F-ing customer service in the universe. With any other company you'd hear "we're really sorry" but they'd never do anything to make it up to you. If they'd given me $100 I would have thought it was about $80 more than I deserved so this was a very nice surprise.

Lastly and most significantly on the weird extra money front I won $1,900 from my good friend E.B. I'm sure you're wondering under what circumstances I could have possibly won so much money from him. I don't want to go into the exact details, but let's just say that I bet him that he wouldn't do something stupid and the stupider he got the more he owed me. I feel a little bad about it, but he won $900 from me in a weight loss bet that we made a few years ago and I'm pretty sure he's gotten me for a few hundred in $20 bets over the years so I don't feel too bad about it.

Since I've taken so much time off this month (I've only worked 7 days - Yikes!)and I'm going to be taking a 8 days off to go to Vegas, I have some serious catching up to do. Right now I'm at 361,500 points for the year and I'm hoping to make it to 420,000 (the point at which my $4,000 milestone bonus will actually be availible for me to cashout) before I leave for Vegas on June 4th. 60,000 points in 17 days is going to take a man sized effort, but I think I'm up to the challenge. I'll try to keep you posted.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

WSOP 2008 Preview!

There are a record 55 events over the course of 7 weeks at this years WSOP starting on May 31st. My first glance at the schedule made me feel like I wanted to play about 40 of those events. The vast majority have buys ins between $1,000 and $3,000 which is right in the range that I wanted to target this year and of course most of those are some form of hold 'em.

After many hours over the course of several day of staring at the schedule, looking through my casino offers for room deals, calling to check actual rates at a half dozen casinos, and looking at the prices of flights, I finally came up with a plan! The flights and the rooms are booked now and I'll be in Vegas from June 4th to June 11th. I'm staying at the Rio the first two nights, the Bellagio (Yeah Baby!)the next two, and the Paris for the last three. In my opinion the Bellagio is the nicest casino on the strip and I'm fired up to be staying there.

I'm planning to play in 5 WSOP events this year (#'s 16-20 of my career). Here's my schedule:

June 4th $2,000 NL Hold 'em
June 5th $1,500 NL Hold 'em 6-handed
June 6th Nothing
June 7th $2,500 NL Hold 'em
June 8th Nothing
June 9th $1,500 NL Hold 'em Shootout
June 10th $2,000 Limit Hold 'em

If I get bounced early or if I feel like playing on the 6th or the 8th I'm going to try to catch a few of the other local tournaments that go off every hour around the clock in Vegas. In fact I have my eye on a $1,060 event at the Venetian on the 8th, but I might be ready for a day off by then. I plan on posting daily giving recaps of my tournaments for my fan(s) (Hey Tom) as well as my backers so when June rolls around look for daily updates.

In other news I extended my streak of losing days over $1,200 to six before I got things turned around. That sure sucked! I two nice winning sessions to close the month and ended up winning over $10,000 for April which I find amazing since it felt like I got my ass kicked forever. It didn't hurt that I cleared the $3,000 milestone bonus at the end of the month.

In terms of my year end point goals I ended April with 329,000 points which is only 1,600 points (a little less than 3 hours) short of being on pace for the year. At the start of the year I gave myself about a 50% chance of making it to 1,000,000 points by the end of the year. I'd now give it a 98% chance. Nothing short of a major illness is going to stop me.

My WSOP 2023 Plans and Missions

After four and a half years working for StubHub I wrapped up my time there in March. I've been at the poker tables 3-4 days a week since...