Monday, March 30, 2009

A Recap of a $109 Multitable (Part I)

I've been on vacation with a big group of friends in Lake Tahoe for the past 4 days, in a cabin with 7 bedrooms, an indoor pool, a theater room with a 106" screen, and a slew of other luxuries. It was a great break and a way to recharge before the SCOOP. But the day before I left I had a very nice result in a $109 tournament that started with 756 players.

I've been trying to focus on cash games lately and I entered the tournament on a total whim. I requested a hand history for this tournament because I felt like I played really well and wanted to look write a detailed post. So while I might not go into great detail about everything I'll try to mention all of the key hands.

The first big hand came on hand #43 of the tournament. We started with 3,000 chips and after not much action for the better part of an hour I had 3,135 chips. I got dealt AK and found myself facing a raise to 150. I made it 450 and my opponent who started the hand with about 3,000 chips as well called my reraise. The flop was 3 7 9, with two spades I bet 700 and my opponent went all in.

My first impulse was of course to fold. After all I didn't even have a pair. But after some thought I decided that it wasn't likely that my opponent had connected with that flop and there was at least a 50/50 chance that I was up against a semibluff or a total bluff. So I called, my opponent turned over QJ, and after a brick on the turn and a brick on the river I was up to 6,000 chips. This was a bold call and I felt great about having the stones to make it.

On hand #56 I improved my situation when I got half my chips in preflop with JJ vs AQ and my hand held up. I stayed right in the range of 10,000 chips or so for about the next hour then I picked up another nice pot.

The blinds were up to 150/300 with a 25 chip ante and I got dealt T8 suited in the big blind in hand #136. My lone opponent in this hand got dealt KK in the cutoff and came in raising. I made a little bit of a thin call preflop, but once the flop came down J 8 7 I decided to go for it. My opponent had 6,000 chips, which was a good sized stack, but only half of what I had. I check raised him all in on the flop, he called and I rivered a 9 to make a straight! Up to 18,000 chips I felt like I had a great chance to make the money.

Around hand #150 a player who I'd be seeing a lot of in this tournament was moved to my table - johne147. As we got close to the money I was impressed with his play. It's rare for an opponent to stand out to me in a standard NL tournament, but for some reason this guy caught my attention. It seemed like he was in a lot of pots picking up chips even though he didn't have much more than an average stack when he started. His activity kept me from stealing as many blinds as I normally would have as we approached the money, but I decided there was no reason to go after him with marginal cards.

There were several occasions in the tournament where we were split up and then moved back together again. The last time we were brought back together was at the final table.

Fast forward to hand #199 and I was up to 25K chips. We were in the money (which started out at around $200 gross) and the blinds were up to 1K/2K. I got dealt AQ of hearts in middle position, made it 3K to go and got smooth called by the button. I was a little nervous that I might be up against a hand like KK trying to trap me, but I was far from sure what my opponent might have.

The blinds folded, the flop came down 9 4 2 all clubs, and I bet 5,000 into the roughly 8,000 chip pot. My opponent paused for a moment and then went all in for 40K! ACK! I had about 15,000 chips left and for some reason I decided my opponent was putting a move on with a bare ace of clubs. Also I was thinking "I'm in the money and I've got a loooong way to go before this gets interesting so I'm just going to go for it!"

I called and my opponent showed me TT with the ten of clubs! OOPS! Now I needed a non club A or Q to survive. Amazingly the turn was the queen of spades (one of only 4 cards left in the deck that would help me) and the river was a small heart. Now I was up to 52K and in great shape.

A little while later on hand #217 I raised with KQ under the gun and the big blind had a moment of stupidity. For some reason after three and a half hours and 200+ hands he decided he'd just move all in with J7. I was pretty sure I was beat when he moved all in for 17K, but I was hoping he had a pair below queens which would mean I was getting the right price to call. I was really surprised to see what he had and happy to take his chips!

At this point I think I was in the top 5 of about 60 or 70 players.

On hand #253 I took out a smallish all in who had A6 vs my 44 and picked up some more chips with a flop bluff on hand #259.

On hand #274 I called a button raise out of the big blind with Q9. The flop came down JT6 and we both checked. I thought my opponent either had a monster or nothing so after the turn came a 2 I bet 8,000 into the 12,000 chip pot. He called which didn't tell me too much. I missed my straight draw and thought about giving up on the hand. Instead I bet 20K and pushed my opponent off the hand. It felt great!

After that string of small, but not insubstantial pots I was in first place with 125K. I stole some blinds and had some people play back at me a few times and really didn't have much happen for the next 30+ hands. Then on hand #308 with blinds of 1.5K/3K I got dealt A7 suited and raised to 9K from the button. The small blind folded and the big blind went all in for 45K. I wasn't thrilled about it, but I decided that my opponent's likely range of hands was pretty broad here so I opted to call. He turned over KQ, I hit an ace on the turn and I took down a 93,000 chip pot!

I stayed right in the range of 175K for the next hour or more and that's right where I was when we got down to two tables. At that point average was 126K so while I wasn't blowing everyone else out of the water, I was still in great shape to make the final table.

Things were pretty steady and boring as we approached the final table. I put on a little heat here and there and when we were down to 9 players I was up to 225K. Ninth place paid a little over $1,000, but of course there was much more money at the top of the prize pool.

I have a busy day tomorrow, but on Wednesday I'll recap the final table and give a little bit of a SCOOP preview.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Little Hand Discussion

In a recent post I implied that Matt made a mistake calling a substantial all in with 44 at the shooting star.

To set the scene there were 29 players left in the Shooting star, the blinds were 2,500/5,000 with a 500 chip ante, Matt was on the button (I've gotten conflicting info about his position, but despite what he said in his comment I think he was on the button based on the sequence he described when we first talked just after the hand) with 85,000 chips or so, Joe Sebok (a bounty) moved all in for 75,000 chips just to Matt's right and Matt called with 44.

Here is what Matt said in his comment: In terms of the call with 4-4, if anyone uses a term other than a "bold call" for that play, then they should refer to it as a "100% correct call." I mention this just in case there were any implications that it could have been the wrong play.

I played with Joe Sebok for a day and a half. For him to move in from the button for 15x the big blind, I can say with absolute certainty that he was raising with any two. With a real hand he would have raised much less. So I'm there with a chip stack that is one-fourth of average, I'm definitely not against a higher pair, and there's even a chance I could have him dominated if he has a card 4 or lower. For those reasons alone, a call was correct because I needed to gamble in order to accumulate chips and get back to having a realistic shot. Now add to the equation the fact that I get $5,000 cash if I win the hand, and not only is it a correct call, it would be a really terrible fold.

Just in case there were "other people" with "other words" to describe the play. :-)

Matt makes a good case for calling, but I still don't totally agree with him. Let's look at this hand in depth.

One of the keys here is what is the range of hands that Sebok could have. Clearly he has a weak hand and doesn't want to be called, but that doesn't mean that the total garbage hands are as likely to as the other weak ones. Despite Matt's assertion that he could have anything, I'd be surprised if anyone no matter how aggressive would just drop the all in bomb with the bottom 25% of hands when they still have 15 big blinds left.

With 44 the only way you're going to be a big favorite is if he has a 2, 3 or 4 in his hand. That's 10 if the 50 unknown cards which if your opponent moved in dark means there is a 36% chance that one of this cards is a 2, 3 or 4. But realistically I think the only hands Sebok would move in with in this spot that have a 2, 3 or 4 in them are 22, 33, 44, A2, A3, A4, K2, K3, K4, and Q2, Q3, Q4 (the last three are a little bit of a stretch in my opinion). There are 24 other hands that contain a 2, 3 or 4 that I think he would have mucked. In my estimation there would only be a 15% chance that his hand would contain a 2, 3, or 4.

We'll assume for this analysis that there is 0% chance that he has a pair bigger than 44. So if there's a 15% chance that he has a 2, 3 or 4 in his hand and 0% chance that he has an overpair there is an 85% chance that he has two overcards. In the best case scenario (vs unsuited, unconnected overcards like J6) 44 will be 55% to win and in the worst case (vs suited and connected overcards) 44 will have a 48% chance to win. So by far the most likely scenario is that you'll end up as a microscopic favorite of 1%-2%.

Let's think about something else - the $5,000 bounty. How much should that come into play in making the decision to call or fold? There was $3,282,480 left in the prize pool and Matt had 1.087% of the chips in play which means his stack was worth $35,680 (if he had 85,000) so even though $5,000 is a lot of money, it's not a major consideration. But it is a minor one and it might be enough to turn this from a fold into a call.

When I decided to write this post I was still thinking this was a fold situation and I was looking to make that point, but after looking at some of the math and taking more time to think about it it's closer to a call than I thought.

With that said - I'd still fold! This hand reminds me of a phenomenon from sit-n-go tournaments. Let's say you're playing a standard 9 handed online SNG with a player that you know as well as you could know an opponent. It's the first hand, you have pocket fives and make a standard raise to 60 chips. Your opponent who is next to act goes all in for 1,500 and everyone folds around to you. Now you know that this could only be AK since you've seen him make this play 1,000 times always with AK and have never seen him make it with another hand. Should you call?

If it were a cash game you'd call in a heart beat. You're 55% to win vs AK off suit and 52% vs AK suited. But in a SNG it's time to muck those fives and the reason is - you can find a better spot to get your money in! In tournaments there are many situations that come up that are positive expectation in term of tournament chips and negative expectation in terms of real world dollars. This is one such situation.

Think about it this way; if the house is taking 10% off the top you need to finish in the top three spots out of nine players 36% of the time (with an equal distribution of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes) to break even. To show a solid profit you need to make it to the money 40% of the time (I was in the low 40's when I played SNGs for a living).

In the hand outlined above 54% of the time you'll double up and 46% of the time you're broke. That means that the times you double up you need to make the money 67% of the time to break even (that will put your overall in the money percentage at 36%)and 74% to show a solid profit. Guess what? THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!

Matt's hand has a similar feel to me. While he was in bad shape in terms of what the average stack was he was not on total fumes with 15 big blinds. It just seems like he could have waited for a spot where he was the aggressor or had a better chance of being a substantial favorite.

As a pro it's important to spend time away from the table thinking about these things. I'm sure I'll never be up against Joe Sebok in a $10,000 tournament with 15 big blinds facing an all in and looking down at a small pocket pair. But I will face plenty of situations where I'm thinking of calling an all in with a pocket pair. This discussion and the time I've spent thinking about this hand will make it easier to put it all together and figure out what to do when I only have a matter of seconds to pull the trigger.

I welcome any other comments on this hand.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Weight Loss Bets

Before I get to the meat of this post, I want to make a correction to my last post. I felt like something was a little off when I was writing about Matt's had with KK vs QQ and AA and after talking to him I realized I made a major mistake in recounting the action. He started the hand with more chips and while I had the preflop action right, I messed up the rest. On the flop Matt bet, got called by the QQ, the AA raised and both Matt and the other player called. It was on the turn after he and the QQ checked that Matt really had to think when the AA bet enough to put him all in. Sorry about the inaccurate reporting!

Now on to weight loss bets! I've never been really fat, but ever since I turned 20 I've always felt like I had a few pounds to lose. When I was still in college my wife (she was just my girlfriend then) and I were apart for a summer and we made a bet to get in great shape while we were on opposite coasts. The bet was whoever worked out more times that summer won the bet, got to choose a day of activities, and the loser had to pay for it all. We both worked out almost every day and both looked great when we reunited (I lost, by 3 workouts if I remember correctly). At the end of that summer I was running 6 miles a day in under an hour which blows my mind since now it takes me about 12 minutes to run one mile and at the end I've got nothing left.

While there were a one or two other short term similar wagers in there, the next major weight loss bet I made was with my good friend E.B in early 2006. I made this bet at my fattest. I was in the neighborhood of 270 pounds and E.B. was around 240. The bet was we both had 5 months to lose 40 pounds and the penalty was $100 a pound for every pound you came up short. E.B. made it under 200 and I made it down to 239. I lost $900, but I also lost 31 pounds so it was worth it.

As time has gone by we both went gradually back to our old ways and put most of those old pounds back on. So now I actually have three concurrent weight loss bets!

The first is with E.B. and this one is much more long term. The goal is to lose 36 pounds which would put me at 230 and E.B. just under 200. This bet doesn't just have one end goal and one time frame. Instead there are many checkpoints. The first checkpoint was March 1st (we started in the middle of January) and we had to have lost 3 pounds by then. If at anytime we weighed 3 pounds less than our starting weight we were safe for that check point. If I didn't make it I'd owe E.B. $250 and vice versa. Of course we both made it easily, but it's going to get harder.

We actually set up 18 check points each on the first of the month for 18 months. For the first 6 months we have to lose 3 pounds a month, for the next six 2 pounds a month and for the last six 1 pound a month. Coming up short on any of these checkpoints results in a $250 penalty.

So far I've lost 9.6 pounds meaning that no matter what happens (even if I gain 100 pounds) I'm safe for the April 1st and May 1st check points. I'll need to lose another 2.4 pounds to be safe for June 1st, 5.4 more to be safe for July 1st and so on.

At the same time I have a similar bet running with my sister in law Kristen. She wanted to lose 20 pounds so we have a five month plan with the same monthly checkpoints but of course we each need to lose 4 pounds a month on average to hit those monthly goals. Since it should be easier for me to lose the weight I've put up twice as much money. My penalty is $100 for missing a checkpoint and hers is only $50.

Today I added a third weight loss bet to my stable of pending wagers! This one is not head to head. In this one I've simply bet Jake that he can't get from 209 to under 190by August 1st. He has to be under 190 in the morning before working out four days in a row anytime between now and then. I'm pretty sure he can do it, but I've only put up $100 and if he doesn't make it he owes me $1,000 so I had to go for it. Now I just have to make sure there are plenty of temptations. I need to start having pies delivered to his office and bacon slipped into all of his meals. You're going down Jake! Downtown! To the plus sized men's shop! But you won't be able to buy anything because I'll have your $1,000! Yeah!

Even though I haven't been able to stay near my ideal weight, I've put in hundreds of extra hours exercising and kept myself from getting really, really fat by making these and other similar bets. Even if you just want to lose 5 or 10 pounds making a bet with someone is a great way to get motivated.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Matt out in 29th

Matt finished in 29th place which left him with a net profit of $20,000! Way to go Matt!

He gave me the details of a hand that he played really well just before his demise. With blinds of 2,500/5,000 a tight player with a huge stack (over 500,000) open raised to 13,000 from under the gun. Another player with a big stack who was fairly aggressive just called and Matt who was in the big blind with 130,000 chips found KK when he looked at his hand.

Let me start by saying I would reraise here 100% of the time. If it were up to me I would have reraised to 40,000, but for some reason Matt decided to just call. He said he thought he might be able to double up if he just called since there was no way anyone would put him on a big pocket pair.

The flop came down Q33 and first to act Matt led out for 25,000 (This is also different that what I would do - I would check raise here 100% of the time). The original raiser called and the other player made it 55,000 to go. Now Matt went to the tank. He stopped and thought for almost 5 minutes. Let me say that I would have moved all in here, but Matt said he just couldn't think of a way that he could have both other players beat. Sometimes it's hard to trust your reads, but Matt did, made a monster laydown and mucked his pocket kings.

At this point in the story I thought I wasn't going to get to find out what the other's had, but I was wrong! The original raiser moved all in, the other guy said "really?!? I have Aces. I have to call you." He called, turned up AA and lost to QQ!

Normally with those hands you'd expect all the money to go in preflop, but Matt got saved by the way it went down.

On the very next hand he went down the tubes after making what a positive person would say was a bold call (other people might use other words to describe it). A player with 70,000+ moved all in from middle position and thinking "that could be anything" Matt called him with 44. It turns out that "anything" was K5, a 5 came on the flop and that took Matt down to fumes. The next hand he was out.

Once again, way to go Matt! Thanks for the easy $600!

Matt on to Day 3 at the shooting star!

I am currently squirming with envy. Matt is on to Day 3 of a MAJOR tournament. He is down to 64,000 chips, which is well below average and put him in 33rd place with 36 players remaining. But he's in the money (guaranteed a $15,000 profit at this point when you factor in the bounties) and still has a shot.

Since this is a WPT event and the final 6 players will be on national TV, the tournament has shifted gears from full tables to 6 handed tables. At Matt's table there are two players who's names I know: Joe Sebock and Vivek Rajkumar.

Other players of note still in the tournament are: Hoyt Corkins, Paul Wasicka, Kathy Liebert, and Farzad Bonyadi (there are probably a few more world class players who I'm just not familiar with).

Here is the full list of payouts:

1 $1,025,500
2 $550,000
3 $291,500
4 $230,000
5 $180,000
6 $135,000
7 - 8 $90,000
9 - 10 $60,000
11 - 12 $40,000
13 - 18 $30,000
19 - 24 $25,000
25 - 30 $20,000
31 - 36 $15,000
37 - 45 $12,500

Play resumes today at noon. I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Matt at the Shooting Star

Every March Bay 101, the largest of the Bay Area cardrooms, hosts a World Poker Tour stop called "The Shooting Star." This tournament has a $10,000 buy in and 50 of world's best players (the "stars") have a $5,000 bounty on their heads. If you bust one of these players you istantly get $5,000 and a T-Shrit that says "I busted So and So."

Coming off his glory at in Reno, my good friend Matt Lessinger collected a pile of money from his usual backers and entered this event. On Day 1 he busted Layne Flack (Who I busted once in the WSOP! We own your ass Flack!) and picked up one $5,000 bounty. They started the day with 20,000 chips and by the end of the day he was among the chip leaders with 108,000.

Today is day 2 (there was actually a Day 1A and 1B) and they are down to 54 players from a starting field of something like 400. Matt just picked up another bounty meaning he's already got his buy in back. He's a little short of average with about 90,000 chips and the blinds will be 1,200/2,400 when he comes back.

The tournament pays 45 spots with the edge of the money being $12,500 and first place being just over $1,000,000. I have 3% and I'm thinking about all the things I could do with $30,000. I also have Jake on the hook for a trip to the Royal Hideaway (A resort in Mexico where my wife and I had our honeymoon) if Matt actually wins. He has 10% and said we should all go to celebrate and I somehow got him to agree to spring. So that's an added bonus.

You can follow the action on or if you are so inclined and I'll let you know what happened when it's over.

Shifting gears I'm going to quickly respond to my sister's comment on my last post. She wrote: "Considering your last post, does that mean that your goal when gambling in Reno or Vegas is to get as crazy as possible for the maximum fun factor?"

Gambling is always more fun (in my opinion) when you are with a lot of people and you are drinking and acting stupid. We all know that we're going to lose in the long run playing craps and Pai Gow and black jack. The goal is to lose as little as possible and have as much fun as possible. You would think that would mean betting the minimum and drinking the maximum, but everyone has an amount they can wager where the get a little excitement when they win, but it's not devestating when they lose. That amount is not the minimum for me. Since I make best just about every day the amount I need to bet to get any excitment at all is relatively high - about $25 a hand (or a spin or whatever) on most casino games. For some people that would seem insane. For E.B. who plays at least $100 a hand, that amount would be boring. Before I go on any gambling trip I have a certain amount of money with me and that's the absolute max that I would ever lose but I usually have a plan to "go big" and try to generate a ton of comps or "go small" and make sure I don't lose very much. Reno was a go small kind of trip.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Setting Goals

I'm a believer in setting goals, even though I'm not so great at meeting those goals. I never finished college even though I have about 80% of a Berkeley mechanical engineering degree. I'm always at least 20 pounds overweight (I'm 6'5" tall and I carry it pretty well though - at least I think so). And I always seem to make it about 3/4 of the way to achieving the goals I mention on this blog (with all of that in mind, it's a minor miracle that I made it to Supernova Elite last year).

But that doesn't mean that I'm a failure. I'm really quite the opposite. And it doesn't mean that setting goals has been a waste of time for me. If I set a goal for myself I always try to achieve it and that trying in and of itself helps me be more successful that I would have been otherwise. I might not lose that 20 pounds, but I might lose 5 or 10 before I stop giving it my all. I might not play 100,000 hands in a month, but I'll end up playing 10,000 more than I would have otherwise.

Setting SPECIFIC poker goals helps keep things in perspective. It's not helpful to say "I'm going to play as much as I can and try to win as much as I can." On the other hand saying "I'm going to earn 15,000 points in the next five days and win $1,000 during that stretch" (which are my two goals for this week) is very constructive. If I win $1,000 four days in a row and then get killed and lose $3,000 on the next day it would be easy for me to think "ACK, I just had $3,000 more dollars yesterday," but now that I have this goal, I'll still be able to think positively about a week like that even if I get smoked on the last day.

Looking at it from another angle setting a five day goal will help me think long term. Most poker players tend to think about how much they are up or down for the day. It doesn't matter if they've won $1,000 ten days straight, they'll stay in a game they otherwise would have left to try to get even if they're down $100 for the day. No one would think "I've won each of the past few hours, but I have to get even for this hour." Splitting wins and losses into days is just as arbitrary, but for some reason it comes naturally. This tendency is something I'm constantly fighting and setting goals that are for longer than a day, but not as long as a month really seems to help keep me in the right mindset.

So I'm going to win at least $1,000 this week and play enough to earn 15,000 points. If I can do both of those things in four days I'll take the 5th day off, and if I've earned the points, but am not up $1,000 I'm going to keep playing until 7 pm on Friday or until I hit that goal too.

I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Result So Good It Made Me Sick!

As I'm sure you all know I occasionally sell part of my action in poker tournaments. But I also take other people's action from time to time.

This weekend my good friend Matt Lessinger took the short flight to Reno to play in the $3,000 buy in event at the Grand Sierra World Poker Challange and I invested $300 for 10% of the resulting win or loss.

The tournament kicked off with 118 entrants and a VERY strong field that contained at least a dozen of the top 100 tournament players in the world as well as many other accomplished players. At the end of day 1 they were down to 16 players and Matt was in 13th chip position with the edge of the money being 9th place which paid $7,500.

Happily Matt rallied, got back into the thick of things and ended up finishing in 5th place. While 1st place paid a whopping $130,000, 5th resulted in a net profit of just over $21,000, which meant $2,100 was headed my way!

When they were down to 7 players or so I got on the horn with my good friends E.B. and Jake (who were also lucky enough to have 10% of the action!) and we agreed to throw some clothes in our overnight bags and head to Reno ASAP. Since it was going to be a three and a half hour drive we knew we probably wouldn't catch the end of the tournament, but we also knew it would be fun to go gamble it up and celebrate with Matt whatever the final result ended up being.

We made it to Reno at around midnight and met up with Matt and another friend of ours (Cole) who made the trip with Matt. We then procedded to play a hodge podge of casino games which was anchored by a spirited craps session that involved as much yelling and dumb ass behavior as they will allow. Of course we were all sending down the booze as fast as the waitress would bring it to us and by 6 or so Jake and I had had enough and called it a night. I'm not quite sure when Matt broke down and went to sleep, but I know Cole was out until 9 and in classic E.B. style he played straight through the night and met us for brunch at noon.

After a splash of additional gambling it was time to pack up and head home. Jake in true man style took a flight directly to Vegas from Reno to meet his wife and some of her MBA classmates who were headed there at the same time to blow of some post finals steam. The rest of us were headed to the car to drive back to the bay area.

Desipite being up $2,100 from Matt and being good and drunk the night before I'd kept my negative expectation gambling in check and was actually ahead $20 as we were headed out the door. Of course someone had to go and drop a $20 bill on black at a roulette table and in a matter of about 6 milliseconds we all had $20-$50 on the table.

One roll turned into a few and after assorted wins and losses I found myself with the same $20. We all declared that the next spin would be the last and I slid a $5 chip out on to the number 16 (My birthday, my anniversery, and the day I proposed to my wife are all on the 16th of various months), and a $15 bet on red. And then...BANG - 16!!! 35 to 1 on $5 and even money on another $15!

With the little roulette splash and Matt's excellent result I picked up a very easy $2,300+ and had a nice 24 hour Reno trip. Actually it was a nice 21 hours and three hours of tourture when a hangover, a huge lunch, and some sever motion sickness collided! There's nothing like having to use the emergency puke box, and then puking more as you open the car door and more into a bush and then A LOT more 2 hours later on the side of the freeway. I think it's going to be about a week before I get into a car for any reason!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Few SCOOP Satellites

Even though the SCOOP doesn't start until April 2nd, satellite tournaments with buy ins ranging from $1.50 to $500+ are going off around the clock.

Satellites are a big part of why I've done so well in the FTOPS and WCOOP as well as the big weekly Sunday tournaments. They create a field packed with weaker players who are out of their comfort zone.

If you run a $55 Satellite to a $530 tournament and get 100 entrants you can give away nine $530 tournament entries and one $230 cash prize. The players who enter that type of tournament probably feel comfortable playing tournaments with buy ins ranging from $20 to $200. But 9 of them are headed to a $530 tournament that they would never play in if they had to put up the money right out of their pocket.

Every single SCOOP tournament has dozens if not hundreds of satellites (maybe over 1,000 to one of the main events) so when that $530 SCOOP event goes off with 4,000 players, maybe 1,000 of them bought in directly. Those are the $530 players. Those are the people who can really play (for the most part). The other 3,000 are the ones that make the tournament so profitable.

I've put together a $15,000 bankroll for the SCOOP and as per usual I've collected some of that money from investors.

Mostly out of boredom, yesterday I decided to play a few smallish satellites to the medium stakes SCOOP events. I played an $11 with rebuys satellite to a $320 event, an $82 satellite to a $215 event, and a $64 satellite to a $320 event.

I came up one spot short in the $82 tournament, but I picked up a $30 cash prize so I got a little refund. Happily I made it to the end of the $11 with rebuys. The prize breakdown in this one was a little different. It was a small field and you had to finish in the top 2 to win the $320 seat. Places 3 and 4 paid $31 and place 5 paid $20. When we got down to 6 players I was in first place and had everyone covered by a significant margin. I could tell that they players I was up against were not good and were trying pretty hard to pick up those small cash prizes (a big mistake - you have to go for it when the top two spots are 10 times the edge of the money).

So I started moving all in on every single hand no matter what I had. Everyone folded something like 8 or 9 hands in a row and when someone finally did call I had a real hand and won. By the time we were down to three players I had twice as many chips as my opponents combined and easily finished in one of the top two spots.

These were pretty much bullshit tournaments and tomorrow I expect I'll play something with a little more spice. Maybe something where I have to put up $215 or $320 to win a $2,000+ seat.

Anyway, my $15,000 starting bankroll has gotten a mirco boost up to $15,163!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Professional Play

I made a strong read in a hand that I played great today and I thought I'd share it with you since I know there are some budding players who read this blog.

I've moved back to playing a mix of $10/$20 and $15/$30 limit 6 handed games in the past 10 days or so and I've had some strong results. The advantages of playing $10/$20vs $5/$10 are pretty staggering. First of all at the higher stakes I generate points 40% faster! That is huge. Also the rake is pretty much the same, but the stakes are twice (or three times in the case of $15/$30) as big which neutralizes the house take to some degree. Of course the players are better, but lately it seems that many of the tough pros have either been playing bigger or smaller stakes. I haven't exactly been banging out $2,000 wins every other day like I did for a while last year, but I've had a few solid wins and no big losses.

Anyway I was in a $10/$20 game today, I got dealt AA in the cutoff and the player just in front of me raised it to $20. I three bet making it $30 to go and everyone folded to my lone opponent who just called. The flop came down 3 3 4 and my opponent checked and called my bet.

The turn was a great card - a Q. My opponent came out betting and I thought "Ah ha, he has a queen! That's probably KQ or QJ." I raised and my opponent just called. The river was a king and my opponent bet out again. I raised again and he reraised me.

This is the part where I played the hand well - I capped it. I figured if he had QQ or KK he would have reraised me before the flop instead of just calling my three bet, and if he had a three or 44 he would have check raised the turn instead of betting out and just calling. That covered all of the hands that could beat me and none of them were likely. On top of that it just felt like KQ which it was. Most players would have just called the three bet on the river. They'd think they were up against a three or a deceptively played full house, but I made the max.

It might not seem like a big deal to pick up another $20 in a pot that is already around $300, but it's huge. If I can make one more big bet every 500 hands and I'll make another $150 or so a day which is another $37,000 a year.

It's hard to trust your reads sometimes and I was really proud of myself for trusting mine in this hand.

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...