Monday, September 29, 2008

40 Days of Pain - Day 8

Well, my brain hasn't started leaking out of my ears yet. I'm 20% of the way there and so far I'm just a tad behind pace. I've made 39,400 points of progress in these past 8 days and while I still have a long way to go I like my chances of at least getting close to my goal of 195,000 points in 40 days.

I had kind of a wild ride over the weekend. On Saturday I found myself losing about $2,500 at one point before flipping it completely around and actually winning $2,000!

Then on Sunday I found myself stuck a little over $5,000 (flirting with my worst day ever), before managing to bring it all the way back to just over even for the day!

Part of that comeback was a good result in the $215 Sunday Million. We started with about 7,300 players and by the time we were down to 100 I'd run my starting stack of 10,000 chips all the way up to 1.4 million and was in the top 10. I caught a few breaks of course (most notably beating AQ with QJ in a big all in confrontation), but I won a ton of pots in this tournament with nothing.

The great thing about this tournament (and the WCOOP tournaments as well) is that it's a big deal for most of the people who are playing. If you run a $215 tournament at the same time on some other day with no satellites you'll get something like 300-400 players, maybe less. Those are the people who are $215 tournament players. Most of them have the bankroll to play tournaments of that size, feel comfortable with the stakes, and have worked their way up playing in smaller tournaments.

That means in the Sunday Million we have 7,000 players who don't really belong. When you get close to the money, these players lock up. If you have a solid chip stack (like I did in this tournament about that time) and the combination of balls and experience to pull it off, you can totally run them over. That's just what I did.

The tournament paid 1,080 places and between the time that player 1,300 went broke and we made the money I probably won 1/3 of the pots at my table and almost doubled my already strong stack without ever showing down a hand. Most of the time I just raised and everyone folded. Sometimes when someone would raise in front of me I'd put them all in before the flop. Other times I'd just call and then raise them on the flop. It's great fun to run over weak players like this!

Unfortunately I finally ran into some real hands, missed with a few of my hands when I was facing resistance and ended up finishing in 68th place. It paid $2,250 and I feel like I couldn't have done too much differently in the period where I went slowly down the tubes, but 9th was $10,000 and first was $184,000 so I did feel a little disappointed to miss out on the final table.

It's hard not playing multitables when that's what I want to do, but there's so gold in the pot at the end of the FPP rainbow that I have to just worry about points for a while. For now my plan is to play a few on Sundays and leave it at that.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

40 Days of Pain Day 3

Working all day every day sucks! I've generated a little over 16,000 points in three days which is great, but I have lost about $1,200. Given the swings I've been having that's really not a big deal.

I hope I can find the mental fortitude to make it through these 40 days!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Even More Comment Comments!

Getting back to the hand that has led to so much discussion I have to emphasise that one of the key issues here and what makes this hand so unique is the SUPER deep stacks that we all had. During the first round on the main event of the WSOP you have 400 big blinds in your stack and I had 500 big blinds in my stack when this hand came up. In fact I'm not sure there is a tournament anywhere that gives you 500 big blinds start. It was simple the nature of rebuy tournaments and that fact that this was as $530 with rebuys tournament that led to such insane stacks.

In a SNG if you get KK vs AA you're dead 19 times out of 20. There just isn't enough room to manuver. In fact if just about any normal tournament the decisions would be so much easier. You'd just go all in with your pocket kings on the flop and if it didn't work out, no big deal. In fact if there was a standard raise, a call and then you reraised and got called by everyone, you be talking about a major pot that you could never get away from.

London Dave, you did a solid analysis of the hand. In a normal situation or a smaller buy in tournament if someone acted the way Gavin did it would usually be AK, AQ or a medium pair.

But I really did put him on AA. It could have been a case of "let me put this guy on the only hand I can't beat," or maybe it was the timing of his call, but that was my read and I felt pretty strongly about it.

Maybe it was a hand that happened to me recently that made me feel that way. Here is how that hand went down (this is actually how a good friend of mine who was writing for a certain poker magazine and ran out of material wrote it up after we spent some time talking about it - he wrote it as if it happened to him even though it happened to me!)

I was playing recently in a $320 nightly tournament on Pokerstars. Out of a starting field of 450 players we were down to 60, and the top 45 would be in the money. I had an average stack of about 18,000. Normally I’d feel pretty secure that I would at least make the money, but my table draw was really unfortunate, as I was 7th in chips at my table. With so many players that could bust me, I knew I had to tread carefully, but at the same time I felt I needed to continue playing with first place as my main goal.

With blinds of 300-600, the UTG player made it 1,500. It was folded to me in the cutoff with J-J. I wanted to find out right away just how strong he was, so I made it 4,800 to go. After some hesitation, the button, who had me covered, called. The blinds and the UTG player folded, so I was going to the flop heads-up and out of position.

Before going any further, I’ll tell you that my immediate instinct was that I was up against pocket aces. This was not a case of me seeing monsters under the bed; it was simply his most likely hand. If this was some $11 tournament with 3,000 players, it might have been different. But with a buy-in of $320 on a weeknight, this tournament usually attracted a very tough field of 400-500 players. There was very little dead money, and very few players who would cold-call a re-raise preflop this late in the tournament without a huge hand. I wasn’t completely sure how to proceed, but checking and folding definitely crossed my mind.

In general, I usually have a pretty good idea ahead of time of how I’m going to proceed based on the texture of the flop. For example, if the flop had a jack, I would probably make a small lead bet. If it came with an ace, I would probably check-fold. But when the flop came A-J-3 rainbow, bringing both the ace and the jack, it was one of those rare times that I felt truly unprepared. The flop was there, and I really wasn’t sure what to do.

After some thought I realized that, if he had pocket aces, my goal was simply to avoid going broke. If he had anything other than aces, I probably wasn’t making any decent money on the hand anyway, so there was no reason to get overly aggressive. I decided to check. After two seconds, my opponent checked behind me.

Oh well, that didn’t accomplish much. Upon further thought, I realized that he probably would check there regardless of his hand. Whether he had A-A, K-K, or A-K, checking that flop made sense for him. Whether or not it was possible, I found myself wishing I could have gotten some more information.

The turn paired the three. I decided to lead out for 1,800, a laughable underbet. He flat-called. Again, I realized that this gave me no real information. With A-A he’s calling so he can string me along, and with K-K or A-K he’s calling the small bet into the large pot just in case he has me beat. I still had no information, but as strange as it may sound, I was thankful that I only had one-third of my stack in the pot, as I still thought A-A was his most likely holding.

The river was a blank. I considered leading small again, but then decided against it. It wasn’t too important to get paid off by a lesser hand. Of greater significance was the possibility that I would get raised and have to consider making a sick laydown. Plus, I figured that if I checked and he had A-A, he would probably bet small just to make sure he got paid off, and I’d be able to survive.

With that in mind, I checked. He immediately went all-in. Huh?

So much for all my careful thinking. I was expecting him to either check behind me with a worse hand, or to bet small with A-A, and instead he went all-in? I’ll admit it threw me off. Why would he bet so much if he had A-A? Could he really expect me to call? From the way I played it, he had to figure my most likely hands were K-K or Q-Q, so why bet so much?

I almost found myself wanting to flip a coin to decide what to do. In the end, whether or not it was the best thing to base my decision on, I decided that it was a forgivable mistake to call with jacks full and lose. I called all-in, he showed his pocket aces, and I was eliminated just short of the money.

At first I was a little miffed at myself. I put him on pocket aces the whole way, then convinced myself that he might have something else, and that change of heart cost me the tournament. On the other hand, everyone I’ve talked to says that it was just a bad-luck flop, and I was destined to go broke in that hand.

Either way, I still thought it was worthwhile to go through the hand and think about what I could have done differently. But in the end, I think that - if I try too hard to get away from hands like the second-nut full house - I’ll be doing myself more harm than good.

Meanwhile, this hand obviously worked out perfectly for my opponent, but that doesn’t mean I like the way he played it. I thought his pre-flop call of my reraise was pretty transparent. Whether he calls or raises, I’m giving him credit for a pair higher than jacks, so all he’s doing by flat-calling is giving me a free chance to outflop him. I think his better play is to re-raise preflop, and hope that I have something I can’t get away from. Of course, once it came set-over-set he seemed like a genius, but I still think the flat-call was a fancy play at a time when the straightforward play made more sense.

I also have mixed feelings about his river bet. Again it worked out perfectly, but I think that’s because I had the only hand with which I would call his all-in. If I had Q-Q or K-K he’s simply blowing me out of the pot, instead of betting small and giving me a chance to pay him off for 2,000 or 3,000 in a 14,000-chip pot. I’m sure he wanted me to misread his bet, to assume that his all-in meant that he was weaker than he really was, but that still wouldn’t have mattered. The only other hand I would even consider calling him with was A-K, and even then I think I would have leaned towards laying it down.

This is one where it would have made more sense to dump my hand. My read here of AA was MUCH stronger. I'm not sure my friend captured all of my feelings exactly right, but it was still a nice article and another case of putting someone of AA with great certainty before the flop.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Comment Comments!

If you're into heavy poker discussion read the comment left on my last post before you read this one! Otherwise, you can skip this post!

Gavin wouldn't have any idea how I play. I know who he is (and actually met him in person at the Commerce once years ago), but I'd just been moved to the table. Another thing to consider in this problem is the fact that we were playing six handed. In a full game it takes a much stronger hand to make plays than it does with fewer players. It might not seem like going from 9 to 6 players is a monumental difference, but it is. As a result he might not fear my reraise as much as you would in a full game.

You make a good point when you say "I can't see him making a play on you here. I wouldn't call your re-raise with AJ but maybe he does and then there's a chance he would push all in, but what would he put you on? You re-raised preflop and called a big overbet on the flop with a player to act behind you. You almost certainly have AJ beat."

It's pretty unlikely that he'd push with a hand that couldn't beat KK. In fact I had some small hope that he might even fold AA if he had it! The one exception might be if he had something like a straight flush draw or a pair and a flush draw and just decided to get it in there and take his chances.

While I presented the case that it was possible that he could have other hands, and even though it was six handed which tends to produce more action, my read was that he had AA. And that's the brass tacks of the hand. It just felt like AA to me. In fact, I would have put the likelihood at around 70%.

To be successful at poker you have to trust your reads. Even if you can't fully justify it (and you never had time in the moment to do full analysis) you just have to go with your feelings sometimes. It happens much more in person when you find yourself thinking "I don't know what he has, but I feel like I'm beat."

If I let the hand go and I was wrong it's a minor mistake at most. If I call 7,500 and then have to fold to an all in, it's a good sized mistake and doing what I did by moving all in was a major mistake. The blinds were 25/50 and I had 25,000 chips! You don't need to take chances for 80% of your stack when you're not sure if you have 500 big blinds left!

Another thing that this hand brings to light is the idea of making big laydowns. That's often mentioned as one of the things that separates the pros from the good amateurs. When you play thousands of hands a day like I do, especially in limit cash games, you don't need to make huge folds because one hand isn't really that much more important than the next. But playing $1,000+ tournaments requires you to sometimes say "This is a great hand and normally I would never do this, but since I have a ton of chips and thus plenty of time, I'm going to wait until I'm a little more sure to put myself at risk."

These are all things I know. I try to remind myself of them frequently. In fact I think I'm stronger than most pros when it comes to theory and justifying action with solid logic. But poker (online poker especially) moves quickly and it's easy to make mistakes. That's why experience is so important.

I'd like to say "the next time I come across a situation like this I'll be ready!" But there is no way in hell I'm ever going to be in a 6 handed game with kings, reraise, get smooth called by someone I know is a world class player, and have someone move all in on the flop for 3 times the pot in front of both of us!

2008 WCOOP Final Thoughts

I didn't reread this post after writing it so sorry for the typos!

This years WCOOP was filled with some major highs and lows. I was going to be super pissed if got blanked on the last day and ended up winning only a few thousand dollars. But happily I played well, got a few key breaks and ended up winning a solid amount. Before the WCOOP I said I wanted to have 4 cashes and make one final table. I had 5 cashes and one final table, so in that sense it was a major success. I also had 5 cashes in the second chance tournaments, and one major satellite win which is also very satisfying.

So what was the final number! Well I ended up winning $16,484!!!! BOOM!!!

More than anything playing the WCOOP has made me really look forward to going back to the WSOP. Hopefully I've generated some good will with my backers and I can roll up a huge pile of money to play 10-15 events.

Now on to a comment response (WARNING: HEAVY POKER CONTENT!) It's regarding a hand in the $530 with rebuys and in order to refresh your memory here's what I wrote about it:

With blinds of 25/50 the first player to act raised to 150 and got called by the next player to act. Then it was up to me and I had KK (I had about 25,000 chips)! I made it 600 to go and Griffen (who had about 20,000 chips) just called out of the small blind. My first thought was "Shit, that looks like AA." The other two players called as well and the flop came down J 9 7 with two spades. Griffen checked and then the original raiser went all in for 7,500 into the 2,500 chip pot. Right away I knew that was a draw. My only decision was how sure was I that Griffen had AA. Could I really lay down KK here?After a short moment I decided my hand was too good to fold and I went all in for 25,000. Griffen called and turned over AA! AHHHHHH! The other player had T9 and after no help I was down to 5,000 chips.

Now here is the comment:

Did you consider just calling the 7500 bet? If Gavin had a worse hand than you (AK, QQ,) he would almost certainly fold and if he pushed you could fold assuming he had either AA or JJ and still have 17,500 chips. I don't think he ever folds a better hand than you so I don't see the point of making the big reraise.You didn't mention this possibility in your recap so I'm guessing you don't consider it to be the correct play. Can you explain it in some depth? Thanks.

This is a great comment! Thanks to whoever wrote it! I did briefly consider just calling the 7,500 chip bet, with the plan of folding in Griffen moved all in, but I don't think it's the right play.

I've actually been thinking about his hand quite a bit over the past few days and while at the time I thought "Oh shit that looks like aces" I think that was just a bit of pessimism coming though. Even though I was right it wouldn't be fair to say it was a spot where he just about had to have AA. Making that call Griffen was only risking 3% of his stack in a pot that was clearly building up for major action. In retrospect I think he is capable of making this call with a fairly wide range of speculative hands like medium suited connectors or most pocket pairs. I feel like I could rule out QQ or JJ since he wouldn't want to take a flop vs 3 opponents out of position with one of those hands. No doubt he would have reraised to clear the field with either of those hands. But he easily could have had 99 or 77 hoping to hit a set and snap off a big pair. Obviously if I had to pick something to put him on, I would have chosen AA, but he could have had other hands.

With all that said I think folding was the best option here. By calling I'm risking 7,500 to win about 9,500. Not only do I have to worry about griffen moving all in after me, I have to worry about beating the guy who's already in the pot! I was all but positive that KK was the best hand at that point, but I was sure he was drawing very live. I was guessing I was about a 2 to 1 favorite (I figured he probably had a flush draw - it turns out he had a pair and a straight draw which also put me at about 2 to 1 to beat him).

Let's assume I'm going to win the 9,500 in the pot 2/3 of the time if I don't get reraised. That means every time I call here I have an expectation of +3,833 chips (two times out of three I'm going to win 9,500 and one time in three I'm going to lose 7,500 - so I average a net of 3,833).

But every time I get reraised I lose 7,500 chips! I'm getting a little screwed up on the exact math here, but to round off if I get reraised a third of the time I lose 7,500 one time in three and gain 3,833 two times in three which is pretty close to break even.

So in order to make just calling 7,500 a profitable call I need to assume that I'm going to get reraised significantly less than a third of the time.

And this is all assuming that I'm 66% to beat the guy who bet 7,500 which is a big assumption.

What I did was even worse than calling! I risked almost 20,000 to win 9,500! How stupid!

Of course the one big plus to moving all in is I'll never get blown off my hand by a reraise from something like AJ or a flush draw and more importantly about one time in ten that I do move all in and get called by AA, I'll spike my king and win a huge pot!

Anyway I should have folded. I hope this put a little light on the subject and I welcome further discussion.

Monday, September 22, 2008

40 Days of Pain!

My wife Jen, my son Peyton and I are off to southern California for a few days starting November 1st. That means between the end of the WCOOP and our little vacation I have 40 days to make some major headway on my year end point goals.

I thought the WCOOP would be good motivation to stay logged in and play for hours and hours thus generating tons of points. While I did spend an insane amount of time playing during the WCOOP, it was all multitable tournaments! I figured I'd be able to seamlessly mix in cash games, but in practice I had trouble playing lots of NL tournaments and limit cash games at the same time.

Now I'm way behind! My solution in to literally work for 40 days straight. I've had stretches where I've worked for 10 or 15 days in a row and not really noticed (my record is somewhere in the 20's) so it's not going to be like a normal person trying to pull off 40 work days in a row.

At the start of my 40 days I was at about 645,000 points for the year needing to make it to 1,000,000 by December 31st. My plan is to alternate days of 7,000 points which will take all the effort I can muster, and days of 3,000 points which I can either do at a leisurely pace or get up early and bang out before lunch.

My goal is to make it to 840,000 points by the end of my 40 days. That means I need to average 5,000 points a day (with one emergency day off built in) to make it. This IS NOT going to be easy. But since I'm taking a five day vacation and a seven day vacation in November and another seven day trip in December now is the time to make it happen!

I've got extra money in my pokerstars account from the WCOOP, my real world bank accounts are topped off and 840,000 points just so happens to be the point where I'll clear my $8,000 yearly milestone bonus so if I get rocked I'm OK with it. While I always plan on winning it's going to take playing more games than optimal, for longer hours and while I can't be specific about how my results might be affected, it might not be good.

When it comes down to it the difference between making it to 999,999 points vs 1,000,000 is worth about $50,000 so there's no way I'm not making it! I don't care what it takes!

Since I knocked out just under 7,000 points today and wrote this post you'll have to wait for WCOOP recap! Backer checks will be in the mail by the end of the week!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

$1,050 HORSE Recap

This tournament was great fun, even though it was a tough field. Among the 32 players that entered were two time WSOP bracelet winner Bill Chen, Pokerstars Pro Chad Brown who won the $5,200 HORSE event at last years WCOOP and has 5 WSOP top 5 finishes, "Chino23" (I've forgotten his real name) who was the only poker pro to make the final table of the WSOP main event in 2007, and "Pearl Jammer" who is one of the best online tournament pros around and (according to his bio on fulltiltpoker) has 1.6 million in career tournament winnings.

We all started with 25,000 chips and while I dropped down to 15,000 at one point early on I came right back up to 25,000.

I did have one big hand early where I kind of got screwed. We were playing stud and I started with KK in the hole and a 6 up. Both of my opponents had an ace showing and after they'd capped it on 3rd street and again on 4th street it was about 99% sure they both had AA. On 5th street I hit the third king. At this point I was 99% sure I had the best hand. Since it got capped again I figured both of my opponents had two pair. On 6th street it was two bets an on the river it got capped again. Since I didn't do any of the raising on the end I was about 95% sure I was dead, but since the pot was an insane 25,000 chips I had to call. It turns out that they did both in fact have exactly what I thought, but one made a flush and the other a full house. In order to lose on the last card I had to miss my full house, and one of them had to hit one of his two outs and the other had six outs to hit. It sucked.

But things got better quick. By the time we were down to 25 players (a few hours in) I was in first place with about 100,000 chips. I kept steady at that number until we were down to the final 8 handed table.

Then I made a bunch of hands. I kept thinking "Man, I am running so good right now!" By the time we were down to 6 players I had about 40% of all the chips in play with over 300,000. And that's about where I stayed until we were heads up!

When we got to heads up we were close to even. Then my opponent kicked my ass in the hold'em which really surprised me. I feel like that must have been his best game and when we switched to Omaha he had me about 600,000 to 200,000. But I kicked his ass in the Omaha! I totally flipped it on him and was ahead 600,000 to 200,000. Sadly he took the advantage back in the Razz and wiped me out in the Stud. I feel like I played well heads up and there wasn't anything I could have done much differently so I feel great about this result!

2nd place paid $8,640! I've got to find some more HORSE tournaments to play! I might have to explore some new websites to see if they have any good HORSE action.

Now after playing all day and writing this blog, I'm tired! I'll have the final total and some final thoughts on the 2008 WCOOP tomorrow.

More Good WCOOP News!

We're in the money in the $1,050 HORSE! I was in first going into the money so it never really felt in doubt. I've slipped a little since then, but things are still going well. I'll let you know what happened when it's over. Giddy up!

WCOOP Update

Well after all my talk about how great I was going to do in the 6 handed limit events I got my doors blown off! I was out about as fast as I could have expected to be eliminated in both the main tournament and the second chance.

But there is good news! I won the second $320 satellite to the Main event! I thought I was going to have to play but instead I've unregistered and gotten $5,200 in what they call "W" dollars. $W can only be used to buy into "special events." While every tournament associated in any way with the WCOOP is considered a special event, I can't say I know too much about what else counts. My impression is that it's very few tournaments. At worst I'll be sitting on $5,200 that's locked up for a year until the next WCOOP. At best I'll find some tournaments that pay cash in which I can use them. I'm not sure yet what this means for my backers. I still need to give it some thought.

In other news I'm still in the $1,050 second chance HORSE. We started with 32 and are down to 12. It pays 5 spots and I'm in 3rd.

WCOOP Complaining!

I'm getting screwed in the limit tournament! I've had AK five times, AQ once, and KQ 4 times. While I snuck out a few small pots with bets I haven't made a pair with any of these hands! What the hell is that all about! I'm down from 7,500 to 3,200. I like my table. I'd smoke these jokers if I could make a pair!

I blanked in the first $320 main event satellite and two $44 satellites as well.

Before today my $10,000 starting bankroll was at $16,002. I'd really like to get it to $20,000 by days end. If I get blanked for the rest of the day I'll end the WCOOP with a $2,644 profit. It makes me a little sad to see it drop so low, but the day's not over yet!

Last Day of WCOOP!

Event #31 is underway! This is the one that caught my eye the first time I looked at the schedule. $1,050 Limit Hold'em 6 handed is what were playing today. More than anything else these days this is my specialty. We started with 580 players with 84 spots paying. The edge of the money is $1,566 and 1st place is $107,300. So far it's not going well. We've played 100 hands and I've only won 8 pots. That's less than half as many as I would expect. Luckily the stakes are still low so I have 80% of my starting stack left.

Also on tap today I have the $530 6-max limit hold'em second chance. This should be another chance to play my best game for solid stakes.

But wait there's more! I also have two $320 qualifiers to the $5,200 main event (one is actually 20,000 FPPs which are worth $320). I have a baby shower to go to tomorrow for some of our best friends so if I win a seat I'm going to in the words of Ricky Ricardo "have some splainin' to do." But these are just too good to pass up. The first one is for supernova's only and pokerstars put up 12 seats no matter how many players signed up. I basically got into a $450 tournament for $320. In the other it's the super duper big satellite to the main event that they have been running smaller satellite to for 2 months. They've guaranteed at least 100 seats given away and I expect this tournament to be loaded with some total buffoons who have won their way in via $4 with rebuys satellites to the satellite!

But wait! There's even more! The last thing I have today is the $1,050 HORSE second chance tournament. While the competition in this one is going to be light years ahead of the people who play the $109 HORSE tournament that I win 1/3 of the time, there just aren't very many chances to play HORSE for this kind of money.

Hopefully I can close out the 2008 WCOOP with a bang!

Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 WCOOP Event #28 ($530 6-max with rebuys) Recap

This one all came down to one hand. Sometime in the second hour of play I got moved to a new table and saw that I was up against not one, but two team pokerstars pros. Right behind me was Gavin Griffin who for a little while was the youngest player to ever win a WSOP event and is still the only player to win a title in a WSOP event, the WPT (World Poker Tour) and the EPT (European Poker Tour). Needless to say he's a great player.

So with blinds of 25/50 the first player to act raised to 150 and got called by the next player to act. Then it was up to me and I had KK! I made it 600 to go and Griffen just called out of the small blind. My first thought was "Shit, that looks like AA." The other two players called as well and the flop came down J 9 7 with two spades. Griffen checked and then the original raiser went all in for 7,500 into the 2,500 chip pot. Right away I knew that was a draw. My only decision was how sure was I that Griffen had AA. Could I really lay down KK here?

After a short moment I decided my hand was too good to fold and I went all in for 25,000. Griffen called and turned over AA! AHHHHHH! The other player had T9 and after no help I was down to 5,000 chips.

If that weasel with T9 hadn't just blown all in like a fool I might have been able to make it to the river only putting a few thousand chips in the pot.

A little while later I got the rest of my chips all in with 66 vs JJ and that was it.

I've decided to skip the second chance tournament and instead play a bunch of $33 with rebuys satellites to the $1,050 limit 6-max (there's one going off every hour). I played $150 in satellites in an attempt to make it into the $1,050 Omaha cheap, but no luck there either.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Event #29 Underway!

Sorry about the lack of preview. This one is some serious shit. 6 handed $530 with unlimited rebuys (you still have to have 4,000 chips or less to rebuy).

We started this one with 852 players and after an hour of play I'm only 30 chips down from what I started with. After 1 rebuy and the add on I'm in for $1,530. 132 spots pay with the edge of the money being $2,205 and first paying $211,000!

Event#28 ($530 Triple Shootout) Recap

In my second round I busted someone early and then sat on my 10,000 chip stack for a long time. The other players gradually busted one another and soon enough we were playing 4 handed. I caught a big break at this point. I've forgotten the precise action, but I think it went like this. I raised before the flop with 67 suited on the button and got reraised by the big blind. I called and the flop came down 6 9 T with one of my suit. My opponent made a substantial bet and I moved all in. He had AA, but I made a straight on the river and sent him packing.

At that point we were three handed. I could tell both of my opponents were nervous and neither wanted to take any big risks without a major made hand. Since I wasn't nervous at all and I had a slight chip lead I kept my foot on the gas. In fact I put the pedal to the metal! I raised almost every hand regardless of what I had. If I got reraised I usually took a flop and looked to out play my opponents. Sometimes I just hit them with a massive preflop re-reraise and blew them off whatever they had.

I think we played 3 handed for 30-45 minutes which seemed like forever. Even though the blinds were VERY small compared to our stacks (they were 75/150 with 45,000 chips in play!) I was chipping away at my opponents nicely.

Then I caught another nice break. Again I'm not sure if this is exactly how it went down, but it's close enough. I raised to 450 from the small blind with A6 and my opponent reraised to 1,350 as he had done many times before. The flop came down T 5 4 which missed me completely. I checked and my opponent checked behind me. On several previous hands anytime he'd raised or reraised before the flop and then checked it meant he missed. Then I'd bet the turn and take the pot. I guessed that was what was going to happen here too. The turn came a 6 and I bet out about 2,000. To my surprise my opponent went all in for about 9,500.

I didn't think he was capable of a slowplay or a big bluff at this stage in the tournament, but I thought this had to be one or the other. I decided it was much more likely to be a big bluff with a hand like AK, AQ or KQ so I called and my opponent showed 88! ACK! I was is such a state of shock that it took me 2 or 3 seconds to realize that I'd hit an ace on the river and had won the pot!

Now I was in total command. I had 35,000 chips or so to my opponent's 10,000. I'd actually played with this guy in maybe 100 or so SNGs, but he wasn't playing his normal game. I guess it's a little different playing the second round of a $530 triple shootout compared to $60 SNGs!

I kept on the major offensive. It wasn't unusual for me to win 6, 7 or even 10 pots in a row. But they were all small and whenever I got resistance I never had the best hand. The blinds had gone up a little bit to 100/200 and then to 125/250, but I wanted them to be at something like 500/1000. If they were bigger I could really make some progress, but with the small blinds I just couldn't chip away fast enough. With 30 mintues limits it's not like I could stall and wait for them to go up either! While I was winning tons of blinds and small pots, I wasn't getting paid off on my made hands.

I started to get really frustrated as my opponent made a slow comeback. He got it back to where we were all square and then I took him back down to 10,000 when I made trips vs his pair and straight draw.

Then a major turning point came up. I had QT and came in for a raise. My opponent reraised, I called and the flop came down AK4 with two clubs. When my opponent bet, it just felt like he had and ace. Even though I wasn't quite getting the right pot odds, I decided to call thinking if I could hit a jack I could end it. The turn was a Q and now I thought a Q, T or J all might make me the best hand so I called another big bet. The river was the jack of clubs. AH HA! I blew all in hoping it would look like a bluff and my opponent called. I thought it was over. I thought I'd done it. My opponent did have an ace, but it was the ace of clubs. He had another club too and when I made my straight, he made a flush. SHIT!

He had a small chip lead at that point, but I never recovered. I had been over an hour (maybe as long as 90 minutes) playing heads up which is the longest I've ever played heads up. It had been hundreds of hands and even though I was certain I was the better player I just felt like I was never going to beat him.

Then I did something really stupid. I had J9 on a flop of QT2 There were a few thousand chips in the pot, but it wasn't huge. My opponent made a massive over bet and put me all in for about 18,000. Without really thinking I called. I had an open ended straight draw which is great to bet with or call small bets with, but not what you want to risk all of your chips with. My opponent had QT, I missed and that was it.

I never would have made that call if it wasn't for the frustration that had built up over the past hour plus of play. It was a total amateur mistake and I'm pissed at myself for getting rattled.

With a 3.5 to 1 chip lead like that I should have won AT LEAST 80% of the time.

This WCOOP has been great and horrible at the same time. For the most part I've been playing great and I'm happy with my results, but these close calls are really hard to swallow.

2008 WCOOP Event #28 ($530 Omaha) Recap

I finished 715 of 829 in the Omaha. What a crappo tournament! That's all I have to say about that one!

The good news is I'm in 1st place in the $320 Omaha second chance after close to an hour and a half of play. We started that one with 99 players and it pays 15 spots with 15th being $653 and 1st paying $7,425.

I also picked up a quick double up in the second round of the $530 triple shootout.

Event #28 Underway

We started Event #28 $530 Omaha with 829 players. 126th is the edge of the money and pays $829. 1st is $76,268. Right now there are 764 players left and I'm in 496th with a little less than my starting stack.

Triple Shootout Double Update!

I started out Event #27 the $530 triple shootout really poorly. About 15 minutes in I lost half of my chips. I took a flop with 55 vs 2 players and decided to call a fair sized bet to see the turn on a flop of 632. The turn was a 5, but it put three clubs on board and made anyone with a 4 a straight. While I wasn't too worried about running into a straight I was worried about the flush. But I wasn't going anywhere. One of my opponents bet big and I called. I was hoping for a board pair on the river, but instead I got another club. ACK! This time my opponent bet small and I was forced to call. He had TT with one club and took down the pot.

But with the blinds still so small I wasn't under any pressure at all. I waited and waited and eventually crawled back to my original starting stack of 5,000. After that it was turbo time! I made a few good hands and before I knew it we were playing 3 handed with each of us having about 15,000 chips.

One of my too opponents was fairly passive and the other was a bit of a nut. The nut went down first and when we got to heads up I had 30,000 to his 15,000. I got him all the way down below 10,000 before allowing him to double up. I had AT, he had J8 and the board was JT5. When he made a huge bet on the turn it looked like a bluff so I called. I missed the T or A that would have given me the victory and we were back to all square. CRAP!

While it's normally good news to be up against a very passive opponent that you can just run over, it was driving me crazy in this case. I had at least 5 hands where I would have busted an aggressive or even a standard opponent. I was making two pair vs his top pair. I JJ and he had a smaller pocket pair. I was making sets and flushes and straights and making little or nothing. This guy just kept hanging around.

Then a big hand came up. With blinds at 100/200 I had my opponent out chipped 35,000 to 10,000 and made it 800 to go from the small blind with 55. My opponent called and the flop came down 764. I fired out a bit of an overbet - 2,000. My opponent made it 4,000 which made me nervous. I was almost certain I was behind at this point, but baring something really unusual I knew a 3 or an 8 would make me the best hand and I figured a third 5 would as well.

I decided to go for it and put him all in. He instantly called with 76 for top two pair. The turn was a king and I had visions of this match lasting forever. But the river was an 8! BOOM!

So I'm in the money and have $1,640 locked up. My next match will start whenever all of the other matches are done. Since it only took me 3 hours to win mine I have a few hours to wait.

In other news I also played the $320 second chance triple shootout. They didn't get the full 729 and in fact the tournament started with 208. This meant we were split into 81 tables with either 2 or 3 players. Luckily I got paired with one opponent (about 3/4 of the tables were three handed).

I was still playing heads up in my other tournament and in the Omaha so it was a little crazy for a bit. While it's easy to play multiple full games, playing two heads up games is pretty taxing.

This guy was much more aggressive than my other heads up opponent and I made some big hands against him too. I made top two pair against what he said was AA before he folded. I made a straight against his two pair and on the final hand he got his last chips in with K9 vs my A9. I took him down in 61 hands which was very fast given the deep stacks we had.

I've made the money in this one too, but so far it's only $280 which is $40 short of what I paid to get into the tournament. But if I can win the next table (which will be 9 handed) I'll be at the final table where there is some nice money. 9th is $624, 5th is $3,432, and 1st is $13,104.

So now I've just got to sit here and wait.

Event #27 Underway!

We started this one with the predicted 729 players. Even though my first table is essentially a winner take all SNG. It's a little different from the ones I'm used to playing. The SNGs that I usually play have 5 minute limits and everyone gets 1,500 chips to start. To play down to one player takes between 35 and 45 minutes (7-9 levels).

In today's tournament we all started with 5,000 chips and 30 minute limits. To add to the length the blind increases are a little slower. Instead of going to 300/600 blinds after 40 minutes, that jump happens after 5 hours of play (not counting breaks). And with more than three times as many chips in play those blinds which usually force you to go all in will only put a small ding in your stack.

Winning the first table is worth $1,640. No matter where you finish in the second round you still get $1,640. If you make it to the third round every place pays a different amount with 9th being $3,645 and 1st being $76,545.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 WCOOP Events #27 & #28 Preview

Event #27 is a $530 triple shootout. The way this is going to work is we'll start with 729 players playing on 81 tables. Each table will play until there is only one player left. Those remaining 81 players will then be split into 9 groups of 9 and again they'll play until there is only one player left at each table. The final 9 will come together and play it out for the title. Essentially it's like trying to win three SNGs in a row. If you win your first table you're in the money and I think no matter how you finish at your second table everyone gets the same payday.

Event #28 is $530 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo split. This is the form of Omaha in which I have the most experience. In fact it's a close race between this game, Razz, and 7 card stud as to which is my second best game behind hold'em.

These events will both be paired with a $320 second chance.

After Wednesday's action my $10,000 starting bankroll stands at $17,837.

2008 WCOOP Event #26 ($320 NL 6-Max)

No more zombie magic in this one. I finished 60th of 3,273 which paid $1,964. On the final hand I got it in with 88 vs KQ. The flop was good but the turn was a Q and that was it.

Not a single bad feeling about this one. When I was down to 2,000 chips there were 222 players left, the blinds were 500/1000 and the average stack was over 60,000. My two minute stall let me hit the jump between 217th and 216th place which if I'd had any normal run of luck is where I would have finished. 216th paid $736 so that zombie magic resulted in an extra $1,228! Solid proof that it's never over until it's over!

Non WCOOP Update

Guess what happened....again! I won the nightly $109 HORSE tournament! There were only 48 players, but 1st paid $1,850. That makes 4 firsts in 12 attempts in this tournament! Take that HORSE jerks!

I was in first with 25 players left and while I had a few stumbles, once again when we made it to the final table I blew everyone apart. It's such a huge advantage to not care about moving up one more spot.

For the record, today has been MUCH better than yesterday!!!!

This Zombie Has Found a Hatchet!


This has been a startling comeback! A little while after my last post I picked up AQ and raised t0 3,600. The player in the big blind Uncledrkmeat (who for some reason was one of two players who didn't understand why I waited for my whole time bank to be used before going all in to pick up a free $50 when I only had 2,000 chips - even after I explained it to them!!!) went all in for about 24,000. I had to call and was hoping to see anything by AA, KK, QQ or AK. He had JJ, but I flopped two aces and turned a queen!'

A little while later a player limped in under the gun for 1,600. I was on the button with AT of spades and decided to just call. At this stage, 7+ hours into a tournament the only thing that makes any sense to call first to act is AA or KK. Since I had an ace I put him on KK.

The flop came down AA5! BINGO BABY! The blinds checked and the player who had limped bet out and I just called. The turn was a J, he bet again and I just called again. If he had garbage I wanted to give him every chance to bet again and if he had KK as I suspected I figured he'd pay me off on the river. The river was a 5 and he put me all in for another 22,000! I snap called and he showed 44!

This is a case where going unconventional made me a ton of chips. Your average player would have raised the flop or the turn, but by just calling I induced a major bluff and took down a big pot.

I'm up to 84,000 and in 64th of 92!!!

Back from the Dead!

I've never heard anyone called this before, but I'm a zombie in this $320 NL WCOOP tournament! I was as dead as dead can be and now I'm up walking around. I was down to 2,000 chips after losing AQ to KK (I was actually against another AQ as well and we split a few left over scraps).

In fact I had 1,000 in the big blind and 900 left. I used my entire time bank to wait out a few more people and lock up an extra $50 or so before putting in my last 900. Luckily I had 77 and doubled up against 45. Then I got it all in with AQ vs 77 and K9 and flopped an A and a Q! That put me at 14,000. I was there for a while picking up blinds here and there with all in bets.

Then I blew all in vs a small raise with KQ. I got called by A8 and the flop came J95 all diamonds. I had the K of diamonds meaning I needed a K,Q, T or diamond. The turn was a blank, but I hit a diamond on the river and now I'm back to 31,000. I still have less than half of average and am in 151st of 187, but with blinds of 600/1,200 I still have plenty of time to wait for good spots to get my money in the pot.

Right now I'm guaranteed to return $834, and I need to get to 90th or better to get even for the $215 second chance and the $920 I dropped in the Omaha.

A Sweet Hand!

With the blinds at 300/600 I found myself with about 18,000 chips. The button raised to 1,500 and I decided to take a flop with Q3s. While this is a pretty weak hand my opponent could have anything raising from the button. And since it only cost me 900 to see a flop when there's already 2,700 in the pot I thought it was a good time to take a chance.

The flop came down AK3 with one heart an I checked. My opponent bet 1,800 into the 3,600 chip pot and I decided to call. I figured a 3 or a Q would make me the best hand and I if my opponent missed he might check the turn allowing me to win with a bet on the river.

The turn was the 6 of hearts which gave me a flush draw to go with my bottom pair. I checked and when my opponent bet 4,000 into the 7,200 chip pot I moved all in for 15,000 as a semibluff. If my opponent had an ace I knew I'd need to hit to win, but if he had anything else I should win right there.

Well he did have an fact he had two of them in his hand! Since he had the total nuts at the time he called me in a mircosecond. But the river brought the sweet, sweet 8 of hearts and I doubled up!

Right now I'm at 37,000 in 144th of 301.

The only bad news is I got bounced from the second chance. I got it all in with a pair against a flush draw. I made two pair on the turn making me better than a 5 to 1 favorite, but my opponent made his flush on the end to knock me out. You give some and you get some, that's how poker works!

In the Money in Event #26!

We've still got a long way to go in this in this one but we're in the money. I had my stack up to 35,000 at one point, but I've given some back and now have 21,500 which puts me in 251st of 454.

The player just behind me is very agressive and has been giving me some trouble. If I nail a big hand I should be able to double up, but if I keep missing there's not much I can do against him.

I'm also still in the $215 NL second chance and find myself in 99th of 208 with 72 players making the money.

Event #26 Underway!

We started today's $320 NL 6-max tournament with 3,273 entrants. After about an hour I'm in 453rd out of 2,740 after running my starting stack of 4,000 up to 6,700. 480th is the edge of the money and pays $461.

2008 WCOOP Event #25 Recap

I went from the penthouse to the outhouse very quickly in this one. There were two key hands that did me in and after some analysis I'm 95% sure I did the right thing in both.

In the first I was dealt AKJJ with 3 hearts. My opponent in this one raised the pot before the flop, I reraised the pot and my opponent called. The flop came down A 9 2 with two spades and my opponent checked. I decided to be aggressive and bet the pot which was about 3,000. My opponent thought for a moment and then went all in for about 8,000. My first inclination was to fold, but after some thought I decided that my opponent couldn't have AA in his hand since he no doubt would have reraised before the flop with it and there wasn't any reason to think he had 99 or 22 either. It was much more likely a flush draw and since I only hand to put in 5,000 more to win close to 15,000 I decided to call. Also I'd be left with more than an average stack even if I lost.

It turns out my opponent had 9TJQ with 3 spades. After the flop I was 43.54% to win, but another spade showed up and I lost the pot.

In the other hand that went against me I was dealt AAQ2 with the A2 of clubs and the AQ of diamnonds. This is a monster starting hand and I was happy to see a small raise a call and a pot sized raise in front of me. My pot sized reraise was about 5,000 which left me with about 15,000 in reserve when I saw the flop with one other player. The flop came down K63 with two clubs.

Once again it was go time. My opponent checked and I bet the pot which was about 2/3 of my chips. When he instantly reraised me I knew he had KK in his hand and had hit top set, but I was stuck since his reraise was pretty insignificant and I had the nut flush draw. When he showed his hand he had AKK9. Before the flop I was 72.98% to win and after the flop I was 29.27%. The turn and river were both bricks and I was left with about 3,000 chips. Those went soon after and that was it.

Pretty disapointing since I'd gotten off to another great start.

Event #25 Underway!

Any doubt I had about playing this one was erased in the first hour. I feel very comfortable with the play and I've had two big hands.

In the first I was dealt KQT9 which is a great hand since there are a million ways to make a straight and if you make two pair it should be top two. With blinds of 30/60 I raised the pot which was 210.

I'm going to do a little aside on how pot limit works before the flop because it's confusing. If the blinds are 30/60 isn't the pot 90 before the flop? If the pot is 90 how the hell can I make it 210? Well the way it works is they assume that before you raise you first have to call. So in this case I first "call 60" which makes the pot 150 and then raise the pot for a total of 210. If the blinds were 100/200 I could make it 700 to go before the flop - a call of 200 plus a raise of 500.

So I made it 210 to go and then my opponent made it 720 (a call of 210 plus a raise of the pot which was 210+210+60+30 or 510) and I just called. The flop came down JT2 giving me a pair and a nuclear straight draw. An 8,9,Q, K or A on the turn or the river would all make me a straight! This was a total go for it situation and I decided to try to check raise my opponent all in. But my opponent checked behind me. I knew I was going to bet the pot which was 1,530 at this point no matter what came on the turn. When a 7 fell I didn't like it but bet the pot anyway. My opponent thought for a moment and then raised me the pot which put me all in (I started the hand with just over the 6,000 chips that I had at the beginning of the tournament). I crossed my fingers, called, and hit a 9 on the river which gave me the total nuts. My opponent turned over AA88 and was forced to rebuy.

On the other hand I took about 2,500 from a player when he flopped a straight flush draw and I flopped top set. The turn paired the board and I was up to 14,500. After the 6,000 chip add-on and one or two small pots I'm up to 21,430 and in 107th place of the 616 remaining players.

We started with 748 and the tournament pays 108 spots with the edge of the money paying $1,921. 9th is $10,837 and 1st place is $144,112.

2008 WCOOP Events #25 & #26 Preview

Sorry for the late preview! To top it off I wrote this post and forgot to publish it for an hour!

Event #25 is $320 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys. This is another one that wasn't on my initial schedule. Even today I woke up thinking I wasn't going to play it. Then I thought to myself that tournaments like this are why I sold part of my action. So I could play medium sized tournaments (I never thought I'd think of a tournament that was going to cost close to $1,000 to enter as "medium," but that's the point I've gotten to!) in games other than hold'em without full exposure.

Of course I did finish 146th out of 2,457 in a PLO event a little over a week ago!

Event #26 is simply $320 NL 6 handed. While I will be playing the $215 second chance NL I won't be playing the second chance PLO.

Before today my starting $10,000 bankroll is at $17,380.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2008 WCOOP Events #23 and #24 Recap

Today was such a shitty day. I ended up going broke in the lowball about an hour and a half into it. On the final hand all the money went in before the draw and my opponent and I both took one card. We were drawing about the same and both caught a terrible cards, but mine was a little worse.

In the $320 with rebuys second chance I never really made any progress and to be perfectly honest I've forgotten how I went broke.

In the $530 with rebuys I got off the blocks quick and kept my foot on the gas. At my peak I have over 55,000 chips and was well into the top 100 with 500 players left. Then two hands did me in. In the first I raised with 66 and got reraised by a guy who was a total nut and was in the big blind. It was a small reraise and it was an easy decision to just call. The flop came down 542 and my opponent bet about half the pot which was now pretty sizable. I moved all in thinking even if I was beat I would have at least 6 outs with a 6 making me a set and a 3 making me a straight. I needed one of those 6 outs when my opponent snap called me with AA. The turn and the river brought no help and I was down to about 22,000 chips.

The next hand leading to my demise came when I got dealt 78 of diamonds on the big blind. The first player to act limped in as did the small blind. The flop came down JJT with two diamonds and after a check from the small blind I bet out. I got called by the small blind and the turn came a small diamond. My opponent bet right out and I put him on a jack. I decided to just call and see what came on the river. The river was a blank and my opponent bet again. I decided to trust my read and when all in for only a little more than my opponent bet. Sadly I was up against a queen high flush and down to about 1,000 chips. A few hands later I was out.

I'm confident I did the right thing on both of these hands, but it sucks to go from great shape to out in a few minutes. I was probably 75% to make the money at my peak and it would have been nice to pick up the $2,000+ for just making the money before being faced with tough decisions and bad spots.

To top it all off I got rocked in the cash games again today. My pokerstars account balance had been falling like an anvil thrown from the roof of a tall building over the past 5 days.

Event #24 Underway!

Well I'm playin' myself some lowball! The tournament ended up with 308 entrants which means it's like pokerstars added $120 for every player. So far I'm about even with 4,900 of my starting stack of 5,000. Also I got a 5 minute phone lesson from my good friend and D list poker celebrity Matt Lessinger who knows more about this game that I do and I'm feeling reasonably comfortable.

This tournament pays 49 spots with 49th paying an even $1,000. 14th is $2,800, 7th is $5,000 and 1st is $42,000.

In other news I'm up to almost 30,000 in the Hold 'em and am in 106th of 859.

Event #23 Underway!

We started today's $530 NL Hold'em with 1 rebuy and 1 add on tournament with 1,159 entrants which is close to double what I expected. Pokerstars guaranteed a prize pool of $500,00, but with 1,159 entries, 804 rebuys and 954 add ons they blew that away. Instead of half a million to split up we're looking at 1.46 million dollars!

171st is the edge of the money and pays $2,190, to net $1,000 I need to make it to 90th, 27th is $5,400, 18th is $8,030, 9th is $20,440 and 1st is $263,384. AT WORST I've got a 1 in 1,000 shot at outright victory and a 1 in 250 shot at a six figure pay day. Playing 4,000 hands a day, 1 in 1,000 type stuff happens to me 4 times a day, and 1 in 250 stuff happens to me about once every half hour. When I think about it that way a major result doesn't seem that far out of reach.

After a little over an hour I have my starting stack of 16,000 chips that I paid for up to about 18,300. Since a few people chose to not so the rebuy and add on average is at 14,400 and I'm in 177th place of the remaining 1,071 players.

38 minutes before it starts there are still only 163 players signed up for Event #24. It looks like I might be playing a little No Limit 2-7!

Monday, September 15, 2008

2008 WCOOP Event #24 Preview

Event #24 has not been on my schedule, and I figured it looked like a good one to skip. Event #24 is $530 No Limit 2-7 Single Draw Lowball. This is a game I have never played before. In fact it's only been on pokerstars for the past two weeks and even now the biggest stakes they offer it at are $1/$2 blinds no limit (and there's only 1 game going right now).

So why in the would would I play a tournament for $530 in a game that I've never played before? Well pokerstars has guaranteed a prize pool of $200,000 and right now there are only 54 people signed up. They need 377 players to meet the guarantee and even that would make it a juice free event.

Also while I've never played this game before, NO ONE has played this game for any amount of time because it's brand new! OK maybe some of the old timers played some NL lowball back in the day when people played lowball, but we're talking 20+ years ago. I played a pretty good amount of A-5 single draw lowball at the Oaks club (one of maybe a dozen places in the country that offer standard lowball in person), but it was limit. While this makes is pretty drastically different I'll know a hell of a lot more about what's going on than the hold'em, stud and Omaha players who try to make the jump. Even the triple draw lowball players might get a little screwed up.

Anyway if it looks like there are going to be less than 300 players at game time I just can't pass up the value. If there are 200 players, for example, it would be like getting into a $1,050 tournament for $530. Hard to pass up no matter what they're playing.

2008 WCOOP Event #23 Preview

Event #23 is $530 NL Hold'em with 1 rebuy and 1 add on. This tournament is going to provide an insane amount of play. We started the $1.050 NL with 15,000 chips (which is a ton), 30 minute limits, and 25/50 blinds. In this one the buy in gets you 4,000, the rebuy gets you another 4,000 and the add on gets you another 8,000. The limits are still 30 minutes, but the blinds start at 10/20! These are some deep stacks if I've ever seen them!

A normal online tournament will start you with blinds of 10/20 and generally the same blind increases, but only 1,500 chips and 15 minute limits. That means after two hours you've gone up 8 levels and the big blind is 20% of what you started with. Clearly if you haven't gotten any hands you're done by this point. To contrast, after two hours in tomorrow's tournament you've only gone up 4 levels and the big blind is still less than 1% of what you started with. After 4 hours in the normal tournament the big blind is 200% of the stack you began with, while in tomorrow's event it's less than 2% of your starting stack! By 6 hours in the first scenario even if you've finished first you've had enough time to chill the champagne and call your friends while in the second, you're still an hour short of the money.

This is why the WCOOP is so great and why I've been able to do so well. It's all about having the time.

Since this is the most money I've put on the line in any WCOOP event so far this year I'm certainly happy that it's going to take a long time. More time means more decisions and more chances for me to out play my opponents. Also with so many chips, unless two mega hands clash it's tough to lose all of your chips on one hand early.

Another thing is since the buy in is so big and it's on a weekday I think we can expect somewhere between 500 and 700 entrants. That means I should have a better chance to make the final table than in any of my previous tournaments and no matter how many players there are, when you play online, all the real money is at the final table!

Also tomorrow's second chance tournament isn't going to be small potatoes either. Even a performance just into the money could make it a big day and two duds could make it a pretty crappy day.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

WCOOP So Far and What's Left

So far I've played 15 events in the 2008 WCOOP. With 3 cashes and 1 final table (as well as 4 second chance cashes!) I'd give myself somewhere between a B+ and an A-. At times I've played as good as I ever have in my career and at times I've made decisions that were nothing short of foolish. Counting all the satellites and second chance tournaments it's been well over 10,000 hands which means tens of thousands of decisions. Given that fact it's not surprising that I've made some mistakes.

I've been thinking about the late stage collapses that I had, first in the $215 limit and second in the $215 with rebuys and the more I think about it the fewer regrets I have. I'm not sure if he was the first one to say it, but I always think of a time I heard Amir Vahedi (a player who made a lot of noise at the WSOP in 2003 and 2004) say "In order to live, you have to be willing to die!" Meaning you have to be willing to go for it! The worst thing you can do is play too carefully. It takes balls to be a successful poker player and the only way I was able to make it as far as I did was aggressive play.

When I first started playing poker and even at the early stages of my professional career I was too timid and afraid. I'd frequently come across situations where I'd think "If I was a better player I'd make a move here," but then I'd take the less risky avenue. I was still able to win with iron discipline and precise basic strategy, but I didn't have what it took to really dominate. Now I feel like people should be afraid to play against me in the last stages of a tournament! I'll put those suckers to the test and see if they have the stones to put it all on the line when they're not sure! Usually they back down and I take the pots down. It's this attitude that has lead to many of my greatest victories but it's what did me in in those two tournaments.

My starting bankroll of $10,000 currently stands at $20,415. What I have left might eat up almost all of those profits if I get totally blanked. Here's what I have remaining:

$530 with 1 rebuy and 1 add on (Basically $1,530) NL hold'em
$320 NL 6-Max
$530 Triple Shootout
$530 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
$530 NL Hold'em 6 max with rebuys (At least $1,530)
$1,050 Limit Hold'em 6-Max

That's $5,490 in tournaments. But it's also going to cost (by my best guess since they haven't announced the buy ins yet) $2,600 to get into the six second chance tournaments that go along with these. And I'm going to take a few hundred bucks to try to win my way into the $1,050 pot limit Omaha, and maybe a thousand to try to win my way into the $10,300 HORSE event.

So if it all goes to shit we may be looking at $1,000 in profit instead of $10,000. With that in mind I'm going to give my backers a one time chance to do a bit of a hit and run and lock up part of all of their profits. If any of you would like to reduce your percentage for the rest of the WCOOP or say "Hey, I've just doubled my money and that's good enough for me" I won't blame you a bit. Just send me an e-mail and I'll mail you a check ASAP. It's only going to get riskier from here on out and you have until 11:30 PT on Tuesday morning to decide.

2008 WCOOP Event #20 Recap

I went broke not too long after my last post finishing about 900th out of 3,400. I hope there weren't too many people out there eagerly awaiting an update. If there were, sorry!

I made a move in kind of a marginal situation on my final hand. I was down to about 17,000 chips and there were 2,700 chips in blinds and antes in the pot so I took a shot with A9 from middle position. Like I said this was a marginal spot to make a move, but my table was SUPER tight and I knew that no one was going to jump the fence with 66. I think the players behind me would have folded hands as good as AJ and 88. As it turns out I ran into KK, missed, and that was it.

The thing that really did me in was just hours of garbage. The only thing that kept me in it was the fact that my table was so tight that I was able to steal the blinds enough to keep my head above water. If I'd been able to build up any kind of stack I would have decimated those players.

Also since I've been getting rocked the past few days I decided to skip the $530 Second Chance. It seemed like time for a break!

WCOOP Update

We're about 4.5 hours into Event #20. We started with 15,000 chips and for the first 2.5 hours or so I was hovering between 8,000 and 10,000. Then I picked up TT with the blinds at 300/600. The cutoff made it 1,800 and I reraised to 5,400. The flop came T55! BINGO! I thought it might be too suspicious to check so instead I bet out small firing 1,800 into the pot. My opponent just called and the turn came a blank.

I thought if I checked here it would look like I'd reraised with a hand like AK and had decided to give up on it. My opponent thought for a moment and then went all in with AJ. My plan worked perfectly, I instantly called and doubled up.

I won another nice pot when I called a min raise out of the small blind with K7 suited and made a flush. That one put me up to about 33,000, but since then I've faded down to 22,000. We're down to 1,100 players which means that half of the remaining field makes the money, but I have about half of average and am in 903rd place.

On the other hand the blinds are only 500/1000 so I have plenty of chips to continue for a while. I think I need 2 big hands to make the money with a comfortable stack and maybe just one to sneak in.

Event #20 Underway!

We started today's $1,050 NL Hold'em tournament with 3,467 players. When you consider that we all started with 15,000 chips and blinds of 25/50 it's not surprsing that they've made this one a two day event. The edge of the money is 540th place which pays $1,733. The top six spots all pay over $100,000 and first place is $468,045. At worst I'd give myself a 1 in 2,500 chance of outright victory despite the fact that I've lost a third of my stack already (I lost a top pair to a straight, top set to a straight, and had to bail on QQ on the turn on one hand).

In other news I've totally been getting my ass kicked the past three days. I've lost about $3,000 playing $10/$20 in only a few thousand hands and another $1,000 playing non WCOOP tournaments. As I'm sure you know, I've also gotten blanked in the WCOOP during that same stretch. It's been really miserable and I'm very much looking forward to a day off tomorrow.

Of course a nice finish is either the main WCOOP or the second chance (which is $530 NL Hold'em) could wipe all that away.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

WCOOP Event #20 Preview

Event #20 is the big daddy of my schedule. $1,050 No Limit hold'em on a Sunday. They've guaranteed a $3,000,000 prize pool, but I wouldn't be surprised if more than 5,000 players enter. This one should have a half million dollar first prize! The other tournament running on Sunday is $25,500 heads up matches so that's why I'm only playing one tournament!

The thing I love about playing tournaments like this is the possibility that I could get the best run of cards I've ever had and win an insane amount of money no matter how I play. Of course I always expect to outplay the vast majority of my opponents and that's really why I'm playing. But what if I just got AA every half hour for the whole tournament? What if I just nailed every flop I saw? Even if I was only playing my B or C game I could still win outright with some great luck. While I'm hoping to play my A+ game and go deep no matter what cards I get, maybe a miracle run of cards will shove a fortune into my lap!

2008 WCOOP Event #18 ($215 HORSE) Recap

I finished 379 of 2091 in the $215 HORSE. I really got hosed in this one. I had my starting stack of 3,000 up to almost 30,000 at one point. This put me in 13th place with less that 600 players. Somehow I managed to catch a bunch of great starting hand that then turned into garbage. 304 places paid and it seemed a sure money finish when I had all of those chips. But somehow it didn't work out.

I also came up short in the $320 PL second chance which means I've come up short in my last 6 WCOOP or Second Chance tournaments. I'm still in the $162 HORSE second chance, but it's not looking good.

2008 WCOOP Event #17 Recap

I finished 372nd out of 960 in today's $530 6 handed PL tournament. It really all came down to one hand about 3 hours into it. With blinds of 100/200 I raised to 600 from the button with 99. The big blind made it 1,900 and I went all in for about 5,500. He had AT of diamonds. The flop came down J22, the turn was a blank and the river was a ten. Sometimes that's just how it goes down.

Event #17 Underway!

We started today's $530 PL hold'em 6 handed tournament with 960 players. An hour into it we're down to 724 and I've run my starting stack of 5,000 up to 9,200 which puts me in 148th place. It's been a volatile first hour and at one point I did have all my chips at risk in the pot, but I'm doing pretty well now.

The edge of the money is 144th and that pays $768. 9th is $8,400, 6th is $14,400 and 1st is $80,400. It doesn't possibly seem like I can go deep (and blow it!) again, but you never know.

Friday, September 12, 2008

2008 WCOOP Events #17 & #18

Event #17 is $530 Pot Limit Hold'em 6 handed. Initially I was thinking since this one is going off on a Saturday we could be looking at a huge field. But right now there are only 115 people signed up! I can't imagine any hold'em tournament in the WCOOP (except for the MEGA buy in ones) having less than 2,000 players, but I guess some people don't like pot limit and others don't like 6 handed. Of my 3 WSOP cashes two are in pot limit hold'em and the other was in six handed NL so you can guess how I feel about it. By game time we'll probably have at least 1,000, but that's still less that I might have thought.

Event #18 is $215 HORSE. Do we even have to play this thing or do they just want to give me the title ahead of time? Other than the 6 handed limit hold'em this is probably the tournament that I've had my eye on as a most likely cash. More than any HORSE tournament of the year, this one is likely to be populated with people who don't know how to play all the games.

If any of you backers out there want a small advance on your profits transferred to your pokerstars account let me know and I'll make it so. That way you can play a little yourself whilst enjoying the WCOOP drama or perhaps even win your way into a WCOOP tournament via satellite yourself!

2008 WCOOP Event #16 ($215 PLO with Rebuys) Recap

Once again there's good news and bad news. The bad news is I went broke in the Omaha finishing 887th of 1,232. The good news is I busted before I got a chance to do the add on so I was only in for $415.

I got off to a great start running my starting stack of 4,000 (after I did the one rebuy) up to about 8,000. But then I dropped off slowly but steadily. I kept getting a ton of marginal but playable hands and catching a piece, but not all of it.

In the final hand I got all of my chips in with a flush draw vs two players neither of whom had a set or any cards of the suit I needed. On the turn I even picked up an open ended straight, but the river was a brick and that was it.

I did win my first match in the $215 Second Chance HU Matches (which started with 252 players). It took a little luck on the end and 88 hands to dispatch my opponent. On the final hand I put all my chips in with second pair and ran into top pair. But I made trips on the end and am now awaiting my next opponent. Two more wins is worth $504.

2008 WCOOP Event #15 ($320 HU Matches) Recap

Well, I lost my first match. Crap! It lasted 46 minutes and 136 hands which is pretty long for one of these. I got paired against another supernova. I know he was a supernova because a few days ago they made it so you can display your VIP status right on your icon! Those of you who have been watching me may have wondered about the 5 stars under my picture. If I had 4 stars it would mean I was platinum, 3 for gold, 2 for sliver and 1 for bronze.

Despite being supernova this guy totally sucked! He was one of the most predictable opponents I've every played. When he bet big he had it and when he bet small it was a bluff. The only problem I had was trusting my read (and the fact that I made very few real hands). The people I normally play against are very crafty and it threw me off to play against someone so straightforward. I just couldn't believe that he would keep acting that way! Actually towards the end he did shift gears a little, but I still think I could have beaten him 8 times out of 10.

Maybe I'll have better luck in the $215 Heads Up Matches second chance!

A Big Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who stayed up late to watch last night. Also thanks to E.B. for driving out here at about 1 a.m. to root me on in person and give me someone to high five after Jen went to sleep!

2008 WCOOP Events #15 & #16 Preview

Event #15 is $320 Heads Up Matches. The way it works is you play against one player and whoever wins moves on. If you win you have to wait until all of the other matches are done before being paired with a new opponent. If you win 3 matches you're in the money.

Event #16 is $215 Pot Limit Omaha with 1 rebuy and 1 add on. This is a tournament that wasn't on my original schedule, but since I'm now flush with cash and I did so well in the other PLO that I played I figured why not.

Also I want to give myself as many chances to cash as possible. There are only about 75 players who have 3 or more cashes, 25 who have 4 or more, 6 who have 5, one who has 6, and one with 7. While it would be tough for me to contend for most cashes, I might be able to get into the top ten by the time it's all over. I do have 4 cashes in the second chance tournaments in 6 tries, but that doesn't count for anything except the money won of course (and a little satisfaction!).

This Omaha tournament will be 9 handed and unlike yesterdays rebuy tournament where you could rebuy as many times as you wanted during the first hour (assuming you had under 2,000 chips), in this one you can only rebuy once. At the end of the first hour you can add more chips with the add on. Basically the max commitment in this one is $615.

2008 WCOOP Event #13 ($215 with rebuys) Recap

At this point much of yesterday's tournament has blended together so the details aren't going to be as sharp as most of my posts. And while I'm trying to get myself to just feel good about it I can't help but have mixed feelings.

When I last left off I had about 90,000 chips with 88 players left. Soon after a very aggressive player moved all in from the cutoff and I called with 77. He turned over J9s, but I flopped a 7 and moved up to over 200,000.

The great thing about this tournament is I was stuck at between a third and half of average for hours and hours, but I still had plenty of chips in relation to the blinds. This allowed me to stay patient and wait for good hands which I got plenty of.

Specifically I kept getting AQ! I must have had it 10 times after we got down to less than 100 players. And I won with it every time! Usually it was by blowing all in against an initial raiser who every time but one folded. I got called one time by 88, but managed to hit an ace and double up.

With less than 25 players left I had by far my favorite hand of the tournament (although that one with K9 suited is second). I wish I could remember all the precise details, but I think it went something like this. With blinds of 6,000/12,000 a player raised on the button to 30,000 and I made it 110,000 to go with 99 (I had something like 600,000 when the hand started). My opponent called and the flop came down QJ9 with two hearts giving me a set! I bet out about 150,000, my opponent who had about the same number of chips I did, made it 320,000 and I moved all in. I was hoping to see hand like AA or AQ, but instead my opponent showed KJ of hearts giving him a straight and a flush draw. In other words he was 39% to win while with AA he would have only ben 11% and with AQ it would have been 5%!

But then the turn came down...and it was a 9! QUADS BABY! 1,000,000 chips baby!

This was the first time I was in really good shape chip wise and it looked like I had a great chance to make the final table. For a long time I was telling myself that if I could just make it to 18th or better I'd be happy. All of the pay jumps were around $150 every time we'd lose another 9 players, but while 19th-27th paid $2,685 16th-18th paid $5,114. This was enough that I would feel like this tournament was a real success. We crossed that pay line and then quickly made the next pay jump. 13th to 15th paid $7,671. Before I knew it we were down to 12 which paid $10,228.

We played with 10 players for a good while and it seemed like we'd never make it down to the final table. Then I got a total gift. The blinds were 15,000/30,000 and the shortest stack had about 440,000. He was in the small blind and made a bold move with J8 moving all in. I woke up with QQ in the big blind and took him out!

Then I totally blew it! At one point at the final table I had over 2,000,000 chips, but with about 1,600,000 left I flushed my whole stack on one hand. With blinds of 20,000/40,000 I raised to 120,000 with KJ and got called by the big blind. The flop came down J T 7 and after my opponent checked I bet out 240,000. He just called and the turn came an 8. This was truly a terrible card since now any 9 made a straight. Again my opponent checked which is exactly what I should have done. Instead thought "There's no reason he should have a 9 is there?" And then I moved all in. I got snap called by T9 and that was it.

9th place paid $14,192. I won't remind you what the other places paid, because it sucks to think about what if. So officially I'm going to stop moping and try this again!

9th PLACE PAID $14,192! WCOOP FINAL TABLE BABY! This was a real marathon. I played for over 15 hours which is the longest I've ever played in any poker tournament.

The best part is now the WCOOP is guaranteed to show a profit! That right all of you backers, you'll all be getting a check from me when this is all done. For how much remains to be seen.

Right now my starting bankroll of $10,000 had ballooned to $23,723!

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...