Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking Ahead to the WSOP

I've been spending the afternoon of my day off working out how much I owe all of my backers (there were 14 people who had a piece of the action this time around). Some people have asked me if it sucks to give up a piece of my winnings and I can honestly say it doesn't. I wouldn't have played all of the events I did if it was all my own money and it's a great feeling to win money for your family and friends.

I've proposed to all of them that they reinvest some or all of their profits in the WSOP which will start for me on June 5th. In the last 4 series of tournaments in which I took on backers (WCOOP, FTOPS X, FTOPS XI and SCOOP) I've had profits of 160%, 265%, 0% and 154% of the original investment. I guess I didn't realize how good of an investment I am until I just wrote that last sentence!

The WSOP is where I'm hoping to cash in on the good will I've built up. This is the most important and most prestigeous set of poker tournaments in the world and I'd play every event no matter what percentage I had of myself if I could. It attracts the worlds best, but it also attracts plenty of the worst.

Everyone who watches the WSOP on TV and plays poker at all dreams of going to Vegas and taking their shot. Thousands of players descend on the Rio every summer many of whom have never played a tournament at anywhere neat the stakes of the tournaments they enter and some of whom have gotten most of their experience in home games against who knows what kind of competition. These yahoos have no chance against the likes of me!

Of course there will be plenty of players who are better than me, but no one is so good that I don't have a chance against them. I'm good enough that no one can dominate me. In fact I think I've made vast improvements in the past year, and I'm head and shoulders better than I was in 2006 the last time I took a big shot at the WSOP.

Here is a look at my tentative schedule:

Friday June 5th - $2,500 6 handed limit hold'em
June 6th - $1,500 Seven Card Stud
June 7th - Off
June 8th - $2,500 no limit hold'em 6 handed
june 9th - $3,000 HORSE
June 10th - The HORSE starts at 5 pm so I'm hoping I'll make it to day 2)
June 11th - $1,500 No Limit Hold'em
June 12th - $1,500 limit hold'em
June 13th - $1,500 No limit hold'em
June 14th - $1,500 HORSE
June 15h - $2,000 No Limit Hold'em
June 16th - $1,500 No Limit Hold'em

July 6th $10,000 No Limit Hold'em Main Event.

That's $29,000 in tournaments. All of the preliminary events are 3 days events so if I make the money is any of them I'll be on to day two and if I make a final table it will be on to day 3. That means I almost certainly will not get to play all of the events listed and if I do well and still feel up to it I might stay in Vegas as late as June 21st.

Notice that I have TWO HORSE tournaments in there! I'm really excited about both of those.

Another thing that's good is the WSOP organizers have increased the number of chips everyone gets in every tournament. The first three years I played at the WSOP you got one chip for every dollar of buy in. For a $1,500 tournament you started with 1,500 chips and blinds of 25/50. This is one of the reasons I went broke early so many times. It's not hard to get all the money in with those stakes and that means you have to put yourself at risk. Of course I also got massively hosed time after time, but maybe I could have survived those beats if I'd had a deeper stack.

Last year they made a massive improvement DOUBLING the number of starting chips in each tournament without altering the 60 minute rounds, or the structure of blind increases. This doesn't double how long the tournament takes (the most significant factor in terms of overall tournament length is the amount of time they give to each round). In fact it only makes the tournament a little longer, but it does make a big difference in the early stages of the tournament and allows skill to come in to play to a greater degree. This year they've taken it even farther. This year for a $1,500 tournament you get 4,500 chips, they've kept the levels the same length and they've even added a few new levels which should stretch things even more.

I'm going to be in Vegas for close to two weeks the first time around. I know Matt is going to be there some of the time and my wife and son will me making at least a short visit. But I'm sure I'm going to be there by myself some of the time. Even though I'll be focused on playing, Vegas can be a lonely place if you're there by yourself. I'd encourage anyone I know to make the trip out to see me anytime that I'm there.

I'm getting fired up just thinking about it!

The End Of The SCOOP

In the final event of the SCOOP ($1,050 No Limit Hold'em) I got screwed. The blinds were 100/200 and I raised to 600 with KK. I got two callers (a little unusual) and then the player in the small blind moved all in for about 10,000 (which is what we all started with). Not only was this an easy call, but I was about 90% sure I'd be seeing an underpair when the cards got turned over. Sure enough my opponent had 99 and I was 82% to win a big pot. Sadly a 9 came on the flop and that was it.

The good news is in the medium, high and satellite tournaments I made a profit of $23,186!!! You're welcome again backers!

This was a very successful set of tournaments. Of course the highlight was the deep finish in the HORSE event, but I also came close to a final table in the Razz, and the $425 8-game mixed and had a few other solid cashes.

I finished 77th (out of tens of thousands) in the player of the SCOOP competition which was won by "Get Crunk" who I played against in at least 4 SCOOP events! My gross tournament winnings were 119th best and only 70 players had more cashes than I did (I had 7 total). You can check out other interesting things about the SCOOP including a list of the 150 or so countries that were represented by players in the SCOOP at

I'll be sending all of my backers an e-mail today or tomorrow with your final number and plans for getting you the money.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Out of the $5,200

Jesus I got screwed today! The last 4 hands of my tournament sum it up (there may have been one or two others in there, but if not 4 in a row these were a tight cluster). I get KK, raise and everyone folds. I get AJs I raise and everyone folds. I get JJ I raise and get called by 64s in the big blind. The board is all cards ten and under and I lose to a straight. With my last 500 chips I raise with KQ suited, it gets three bet and capped before getting back to me. I go all in and lose to AJ.

It was all either no action or get action and lose. I played just over 250 hands in this one and only won 25. You can't win 1 in 10 hands playing 6 handed (some of the time we were 4 or 5 handed) and expect to do anything but go broke.

This tournament was so annoying! AHHHHH!

Cold Decked in the SCOOP!

I've been running really bad today. Bad cards, bad beats, and a little bad play have left me out of everything...except for the $5,200 limit tournament.

We started with 5,000 chips and I was just about all in at one point (if I'd lost a specific pot I'd have been down to about 100 chips). I ran it back to 4,400, but now I have 3,100 which is not great. I'm going to do whatever I can to get back into the mix, but I'm not feeling great about my chances.

SCOOP Update

I took my second and last shot at getting into the $10,300 main event. Today pokerstars offered a $797 qualifier that was for supernova's only. On top of splitting the prize money into $10,300 blocks they also added $10,300 from the pokerstars coffers as a gift to the supernovas. 44 people played and I needed to make the top 4 to win a seat or the top 7 to pick up $1,600, but I came up short.

Event #19 $530 (719 entrants) and $55 (3,283 entrants) Pot Limit Omaha is underway, but event #20 is the one I've really been looking forward to - 6 handed limit hold'em!!! We're looking at $55, $530 and my biggest event of the SCOOP $5,200! Let's do this thing! To the house!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Early Exit

I busted out of the $215 with one rebuy and one add-on in about 45 minutes. I'd already had a few things go against me so I was in bad shape, but on the final hand I got AK vs AA, the AA just called my preflop raise and the flop came down king high. Nothing to do there, but go broke! Chalk up -$415.

$425 8-game Result

I finished 27th of 444 in the $425 buy in 8-game mixed. On the final hand I had 68,000 chips (we started with 5,000 and at my peak I had 122,000), we were playing 1,000/2,000 blind no limit hold'em and I raised to 6,000 from the button with AJ. The small blind made it 17,000 and I moved all in. When the cards got tuned over he had KK and I missed.

This is one of those hands where when you move all in and the other guy folds you think "Ah ha! Making strong plays is great!" and when you get called and lose you think "Man, maybe I could have let that one go!"

Part of me feels a little disappointed. I had a good stack, deep in this one, my opposition was OK, but not great, and other than the one hand I mentioned in a previous post I was playing great. Coming withing a few spot of the final table yesterday in the razz, and getting close again today feels like a real tease. Also I really felt like I was going to make the money in the $4,175.

The other part of me (the logical part) can acknowledge that I am having GREAT results in these tournaments. It should not be easy to get so close to a final table, and I already have one final table, and a few close calls in a pretty small group of tournaments. I am playing some of the best poker I ever have and it's paying off.

Anyway 27th paid $1,154. Tomorrow I have $22 and $215 NLH each with one rebuy and one add-on and $55 limit Omaha hi-lo. Nothing major.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Stupid Terrible Play

I just made one of the worst plays I can remember making. We were playing pot limit Omaha and I got dealt KKQ8 with the KQ of hearts in the big blind. The blinds were 400/800 and the button who had a little over 100K made it 2,800 to go. I reraised the maximum to 8,800 leaving another 35K in my stack.

Now here is where the bonehead maneuver came in. My opponent made it the maximum which was 26,800. The only thing he could possibly have here is AAxx which would mean at best I'm about a 2 to 1 underdog and at worst a 4 to 1 underdog (I didn't actually know it was that bad, but I've since done some research).

This was an obvious fold. But for some reason I lost my mind and moved all in. My opponent instantly called with AA74 with the A4 of diamonds making me 33% to win.

Amazingly I flopped a king and took down a nice pot. Even though it worked out I feel like a real dunce.

The good news is I have about 80,000 chips and I'm in 7th of 43.

Out in the $4,175

I had two big hands go against me in the Stud and that was all it took. In the first I made a straight and lost to a flush (that was an 11,000 chip pot). That left me on fumes and somehow I got the rest of my chips in with a pair of sevens against rolled up aces! ACK!

I finished 23rd which was a fair showing. I know I played well and if they offered this tournament tomorrow I'd play it again. That's the real sign that playing this event was a good decision even though it resulted in a loss.

In the Money in $425 8-Game!

I almost ate shit in the $4,175, in the limit hold'em of all games! I was down to about 3K, but somehow I almost instantly went back up to 12K.

We're in the money in the $425. I was in super shape with close to 60K in chips, but now I'm down to 33K which is right on average. I'm in 30th place of 66.

Still Doing Well

I'm at 31K chips in the $425 and in 15th of 100 and 12K chips the $4,175 which is 13th place of 36. It's very likely that I'll make the top 66 and the money in the medium stakes, but it's still totally up in the air in the big one.

SCOOP Update!

I am blowing the doors off the medium and small stakes 8 game mix! I'm up to over 30,000 in the medium stakes in 3rd place of 189 and I'm over 25,000 in the low in 91st place of 703.

I slipped a little in the one that really matters though. Not too much, but a little. I'm at 8,700 and in 21st of 60. I had some trouble in the Razz, but I just got moved to a new table and it's a little softer than the one I started with.

Event #15 Underway!

I'm off to a good start in the $4,175 and $425 8 game mixed. In the first I've more than doubled my starting stack of 5,000 and am in 3rd of 74 remaining players (we started with 84). In the second I've also doubled my starting stack and am in 73rd of 314 (we started with 444).

The big one pays 9 spots and 9th is an insane $13,440 (about the same amount as you'd get for FIRST in the $44 event with 2,200 entrants!) and first is just over $100K.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Massive Choke Job!

I totally blew it in the razz! I finished in 15th of 713 (It paid $1,312) which is great. This is by far the best finish I've ever had in a razz tournament. But I still blew it!

With 17 players left I was in third. Of course since it was a limit tournament it took 5 or 6 hands going against me to do me in, and I did get unlucky towards the end. But I also overplayed a few hands. I haven't played a ton of razz so it's hard for me to look back and say conclusively whether I played bad or was just the victim of bad luck, but I feel like I could have done things a little differently.

Still it was a good result that washed away the mess of the rest of the day.

Tomorrow is a big day. I have $44, $425, and $4,175 8 game mix in the morning, and $320 Stud in the afternoon. I'm sure the big one is going to have a tough field, but after how well I've done playing HORSE even at the $1,000 level I just can't pass up a chance to play a mixed games event for big money.

In the Money in SCOOP Event #13!

The bad news is I came up short in the $530 and $55 NLH and the $22 Razz as well as a $33 with rebuys satellite (-$183 in that one).

The good news is I have a solid stack and I'm in the money in the $215 Razz. Right now I'm in 19th of 94. I need to make it to 16th to get about even for the $530 and all the satellite bricks I put up today.

But I'm running good and playing pretty well so anything could happen.

SCOOP Update

SCOOP Event #13 is underway with 2,945 players in the $22 low stakes (1st place $9,500), and 713 in the medium stakes (1st place $26,700). I have less than I started with in both, but it's been pretty boring so far.

In other bad news I came up short in two satellites. The first was a $280 attempt to win a $5,200 seat and the other was $109 with rebuys where 1st place was a $10,300 main event seat. Chalk up -$589 in the satellite column.

SCOOP $3,150 Mixed Hold'em Recap

At the point of my last specific update we were down to 52. From there we dropped to 40 players over the course of the next hour. And then the tournament came to a grinding hault.

People were still playing hands of course, but not one was being eliminated. We were stuck on 40 for maybe as long as a half an hour! I had no fewer than 10,000 and no more than 16,000 chips during that time and was boucing between 30th place and 35th place.

In a situation like this you have to balance trying to just make the money and playing your normal game which might get you eliminated, but should also lead to more chips in your stack. Normally it's an easy decision for me. I play my normal game because I want to WIN the tournament or at least finish in the top few spots. Of course just making the money is usually a few hundred not over six thousand!

Another thing that made this spot unique was the player I was up against. One was Dan_druff who is a WSOP braceltt winner (he has at least one other WSOP final table) and a high stakes online player. Another was THE_D_RY who might be THE toughest SNG player on all of pokerstars. He plays the biggest SNGs (up to $2,000 buy in!) and all of the biggest tournaments. Then there were three other players who were all very strong players. In fact I might have been the worst player at my table! I'm not sure I can ever remember a time when that was the case in any game. Even at the highest stakes I've played there's always been at least one person (usually many more) who I could point to and say "At least I know I'm better than that guy!"

Eventually ever so slowly people started to drop. I'd be surviving just by stealing blinds or winning very small pots, but then I started to get some good cards. I took my stack all the way up to 27,000 chips and was in 23rd place with 35 players to go. At that point I thought I had it locked up for sure.

Then I had a big hand that was full of tough decisions - exactly what I didn't want! We were playing limit and the blinds were 500/1,000. I got dealt A8 with the A of clubs in the small blind. The button came in raising and I three bet make it 3,000 to go. He capped it at 4,000. Uh Oh!

The flop came down J 9 4 with two clubs. I checked and he bet 1,000 into the 9,000 chip pot. I didn't have anything, but this guy was super aggressive. I thought there was a chance I could have the best hand and the pot was just so big that I couldn't fold. The turn was the queen of clubs which gave me a flush draw and a gut shot straight draw. Now I had to call, which I did when he bet.

The river was a total brick and after my opponents bet I was looking at a 17,000 chip pot. A pot that was worth $10,200 in real world dollars if you do the math on the equity. If I folded it would just be gone. So I called, and my opponent showed AT for a slightly better ace high! AHHHHHHHH!

That was 9,000 chips out the window and then I slipped some more! With only 32 players left I was down to 10,000 chips and in 29th place when the following hand came up. I was in the big blind and the very aggressive button who was the big stack at the table came in raising (we were still playing limit at the same stakes). I was in the big blind with A7 and I knew my opponent could raise literally any two cards given the situation.

I was pretty sure I had the best hand, but I wanted to play the hand as cheaply as possible since survival was more important than picking up chips. So I just called.

The flop came down A K 4 which looked like a great flop to me so I check raised. And my opponent three bet! Uh Oh! I called which mean 5,000 of my 10,000 chips were in the pot and calling a turn and river bet would cost me 4,000 more. If I lost here I was done. But no way could I fold.

The turn brought another ace which was a fantastic card, and I check called. The river was a blank and I thought about betting, but I figured my opponent would fire again no matter what he had. Sadly he gave up, checked and turned over 86 which was no pair no draw!

I would have been super pissed to finish in 32nd! But I didn't, and went on to make the money which paid $6,400! This is the most I've ever been paid and the highest net profit I've had for just making the money.

I went broke almost right away after we made the money losing first with AJ to KK and then with 2nd pair to top pair. But 30th place was just fine with me!

Recap of $3,150 Mixed Coming Soon!

Let me just say that the field in the $3,150 Mixed Hold'em was the toughest I've ever faced online and with the exception of the $5,000 NLH event at the 2006 WSOP the toughest field I've ever faced. I'll recap the action before noon PT Wedneday.

Wednesday I have $22 and $215 Razz in the morning and $55 and $530 NL hold'em 6 max in the afternoon.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

SCOOP Update

After running my starting stack of 5,000 up to 15,000 in the Stud H/L I finished in 319th of about 700.

But I'm still in it in the $3,150 mixed hold'em. This tournament is going to give me a heart attack. Here is a hand history for a big hand I played. Note that Chad Brown is a sponsored pokerstars pro.

PokerStars Game #26840026570: Tournament #200904113, $3000+$150 Hold'em Mixed (Hold'em No Limit) - Level XIV (50/100) - 2009/04/07 15:23:28 PT [2009/04/07 18:23:28 ET]
Table '200904113 33' 6-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 1: LockDown120 (11966 in chips)
Seat 2: FatalError (12490 in chips)
Seat 3: ACESEDAI (10916 in chips)
Seat 4: ChadBrownPRO (4290 in chips)
Seat 5: villepn (4121 in chips)
Seat 6: RonaldKosh (17208 in chips)
ACESEDAI: posts the ante 15
ChadBrownPRO: posts the ante 15
villepn: posts the ante 15
RonaldKosh: posts the ante 15
LockDown120: posts the ante 15
FatalError: posts the ante 15
ACESEDAI: posts small blind 50
ChadBrownPRO: posts big blind 100
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ACESEDAI [9s 9c]
villepn: folds
RonaldKosh: folds
LockDown120: folds
FatalError: folds
ACESEDAI: raises 300 to 400
ChadBrownPRO: calls 300
*** FLOP *** [3d 6d Qd]
ACESEDAI: bets 600
ChadBrownPRO: raises 600 to 1200
ACESEDAI: raises 2800 to 4000
ChadBrownPRO: calls 2675 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (125) returned to ACESEDAI
*** TURN *** [3d 6d Qd] [Qs]
*** RIVER *** [3d 6d Qd Qs] [4h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ACESEDAI: shows [9s 9c] (two pair, Queens and Nines)
ChadBrownPRO: shows [Kd 6s] (two pair, Queens and Sixes)
ACESEDAI collected 8640 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 8640 | Rake 0
Board [3d 6d Qd Qs 4h]
Seat 1: LockDown120 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: FatalError (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: ACESEDAI (small blind) showed [9s 9c] and won (8640) with two pair, Queens and Nines
Seat 4: ChadBrownPRO (big blind) showed [Kd 6s] and lost with two pair, Queens and Sixes
Seat 5: villepn folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 6: RonaldKosh folded before Flop (didn't bet)

He had two shots to hit a K, 6 or diamond and missed it all.

In another hand that was tense to say the least I got all of my chips in with A4 of clubs vs K8 on a board of 6 7 9 with two clubs. I made the last raise and when I got called I was sure I needed to hit to win. Instead all I had to do was fade a K, 8, T or 5. The turn and river were nothing and I survived.

Another time I flopped a flush and got it all in vs top pair and a bigger flush draw. I dodged that one too.

You might think I'm in great shape given all these wins, but I'm not. I keep losing small and medium sized pots and then winning when I'm forced to go all in.

We're down to 52 of 247 with 30 spots paying and I'm in 42nd place. Not out of it, but in need of help if I'm going to make the money.

SCOOP Event #11 Underway!

I'm already out of the medium and low stakes, but I'm doing well in the $3,150 high stake tournament. We started with 247, we're down to 159 and I'm in 46th place with 9,500 chips (we started with 5,000). 30th is the edge of the money and pays $6,400. 1st is $184,000. Also at the last minute I jumped into the $215 Stud H/L which pretty much just started for me.

The Total, Today's Action, and What's Left

Just short of halfway through the SCOOP I'm down $279 in the low stakes tournaments with only one cash in ten tournaments. I feel like such a loser. I don't know how I'm ever going to get that money back! Oh wait I'm ahead $32,462 at everything else!

Today at 11:30 PT I have 6 handed mixed hold'em which is half limit (my specialty) and half no limit. The low stakes is $33, the medium is $320 and the high is $3,150. I'm going to play them all. Originally the high was not on my schedule, but it should have been.

The 1:30 PT event today is Stud hi-lo split. This is one of my worst games, so I'll probably skip it to focus on the $3,150 tournament. If I go broke in that one in the first two hours then I'll take a shot at the $215 Stud H/L.

After Sunday's result it sort of feels like the SCOOP has bared it's fruit and is just about over, but there is a lot more left! The big stuff is the $4,175 8 game mix, $5,200 6-max limit hold'em, and the $1,050, $3,000,000 guaranteed medium stakes main event. But after today there are also 7 other medium stakes tournaments (most in the $500 range) and 10 low stakes tournaments. There is also a $10,300 NLH main event. I'll probably take about $1,000 and try to qualify for that and if I have another $30,000+ result I might just play it regardless.

The good news is even if I totally blank in everything from here on out (which is pretty unlikely), the worst case scenario is a profit of $15,000 meaning all of my backers will at least double their initial investment. I won't get into the best case scenario, but it's pretty good.

Recap of Monday's SCOOP action

After Sunday's sweetness, Monday was pretty boring. I started the day off winning a $22 with rebuys satellite to a $425 tournament. That was a net profit of $323. Not bad.

Originally I'd planned to skip the $215 Triple Draw Lowball, but after my big win I have plans to play a $4,000+ tournament later in the series that is a mix of 8 games (The HORSE games, plus pot limit Omaha, no limit hold 'em, and limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball). Triple Draw is the first game in the mix and I needed the practice.

The way Triple Draw works for those of you who don't know about it is there are six players who each get dealt 5 cards. The goal is to make the worst hand possible. Aces are the highest card not the lowest, and unlike other games where a low hand comes into play in this version straights and flushes count against you. So the best possible hand is 2 3 4 5 7 with at least two suits represented which is why the game is called "Deuce to Seven" lowball (in contrast to "Ace to Five").

There are blinds just like in hold'em and after a round of betting whoever is left gets to throw away bad cards from their hand and get them replaced with new ones. Unlike in 5 card draw where you only do this once, in Triple Draw you get a chance to draw new cards three times with a round of betting after each draw.

I used to play regular lowball at the Oaks clubs years ago (in that variant there is only one draw, aces are low, and straights and flushes are irrelevant so A 2 3 4 5 is the best hand), and there are some similarities. I've also played the 8 games mix at my normal stakes so I have some experience there, but it was good to work out some of the holes in my game yesterday.

I made it through about 3/4 of the field in both the low stakes and medium stakes events before coming up short of the money (-$22 in the low and -$215 in the medium). In total that was 7 or 8 hours of play and I'm feeling my better about lowball skills.

The other set of tournaments was heads up matches. In the low I won three matches which was good enough to make the money (+$14). In fact it took me a TOTAL of three hands to win the first two matches! The third match took about 10 hands, and the fourth took about 50, but I came up short. In the medium stakes, in massive contrast, my first match took over 150 hands, I got it in with a strong draw and lost to top pair (-$162).

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Big Surprise (for some of you)!

I did a little something in the HORSE tournament yesterday. I was on a break and I started to write a post. This is what I wrote:

They say you never have so many chips that your victory in certain or so few that you're out of it. After being all in several times with very marginal hands and miraculously surviving, I went on a run. It's hard for me to recall hands from non hold'em games, so I can't say exactly how it happened, but I made the money! Not only that, but I'm in good shape.

I was looking to add a few specifics when the tournament resumed and I forgot all about my post. In fact I felt like I'd put it up on the blog and everyone knew I was still in it and in the money! Instead when the tournament concluded I saw my post sitting there waiting and realized nothing had gone up on the blog!

So what happened exactly? Well I went on a tear and went from fumes to an average stack with 100 players or so left. As we crossed the edge of the money which was 64th place I lagged a little and had about 22,000 chips when the average stack was 35,000.

And then I went on a major rush in the razz. The way the tournament was set up was the limits increased every 20 minutes, but the game switched every 10. So it was 10 minutes of Hold'em, 10 minutes of Omaha, then a limit increase, 10 minutes of Razz, 10 minutes of Stud, then a limit increase and so on. For the whole tournament it seemed like I didn't have any luck in the other 4 games, but when it got back to razz, I killed it!

I went from 22,000 for 50,000+ in a matter of minutes. The amount of money I was guaranteed jumped every 8 places to start. 64th to 57th paid $1,775, 56th to 49th paid $1,875, 48th to 41st paid $2,125, 40th to 33rd paid $2,625.

When we got down to 36 players I was in 9th place. I was all but positive that I'd make the next pay jump which was at 32 players, but I had my eye on the 24th to 17th place range. That paid $4,375 which was about what I needed to get even for the day.

I blasted right through it and by the time there were 17 of us left I was in 3rd place. In a no limit tournament you can go from the top few spots to out with one bad beat. The great thing about being ahead in a limit tournament is it takes more than one or two disastrous hands to get you in trouble.

It was looking good for me to make the final table. And that's just what I did! 8th place was $10,000 so I was guaranteed at least that much and since I was in 4th place (I think) it was likely that I'd do even better. There were two short stacks, one of them took that $10,000 prize and the other took $12,500 for 7th.

Meanwhile I was starting to pick up momentum. I wasn't nervous at all and I kept playing my normal aggressive game. On the other hand my opponents were playing timidly. The chips started piling up and the other players started to fade. Someone finished 6th and got $17,500. Before I knew it I was in first!

Playing 5 handed It looked like I was in good shape for at least 3rd place. I had something like 750,000 chips, another player had about the same, the player in third chip position had 500,000 or so and the other two guys had around 100,000.

Then I started to slip. I made a mistake here and there. I had a couple of big draws miss. I had a few big made hands get beat by bigger made hands. Two hands have stuck with me through the night. The first was in Razz where I started with A 2 3 4 as my first four cards (the best possible four card start) and ended up catching 3 bricks in a row and losing to someone who made a fairly weak hand. The second was in Omaha where I flopped top set which was the nuts on the flop and turn. Another player had a flush draw and a low draw and a card that made his low and his flush came on the river. These were both huge pots and losing them took a big chunk out of my stack.

Of course as the chips were flowing out of my stack, they were flowing into the stacks of my opponents. The short stacks went from almost dead to healthy again in what felt like no time.

I managed out outlast one more player who got $25,000 for 5th. I took down 4th place which paid $37,500! YAY!

This was an awesome result especially since I was in such bad shape in the middle of the tournament. Man do I love HORSE!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Totally Bamboozled!

I had this post all locked and loaded when I was down to about 1/4 of average in the $1,050 HORSE, but I've since stormed back to an average stack with 138 players left. 64 spots pay. Anyway here's what I wrote. I'll post again if I make the money, but otherwise you can assume I came up short.

I bricked in everything today! ACK! I was doing well in both HORSE tournaments for a while taking one to 3X my starting stack and the other to 2.5X. But then it was down, down, down the tubes. Not much to say other than that. Today just wasn't my day.

Tomorrow I have triple draw lowball (which I might skip) and heads up matchs all for pretty minor stakes.

SCOOP $3,150 NLH Recap

Doing a Recap shortly after the tournament starts is never a good sign! A few hands into the tournament I got dealt AQ of spades. The blinds were 25/50 everyone had pretty much the starting stack of 10,000 and I made a standard raise to 150. The small blind made it 450 to go and I just called. The flop came down low with two spades and my opponent bet out 80% of the pot. I considered raising, but opted to just call.

The turn was another small non spade and again my opponent made a near pot sized bet of 2,000. I certainly could have folded here, but I was getting 2 to 1 on my money, I knew a spade was good, an A or Q or both could be good and there was some non zero chance I had the best hand would win unimproved. So I called. The river was a total blank and my opponent moved all in. I said bye bye to 3,000 chips and folded.

About a half an hour later I had 6,000 chips left and open raised to 180 with 55. Three players called and the big blind raised to 660. I called as did everyone else. The flop came down 6 4 2 with two diamonds and the big blind bet out about 1,000.

I thought there was a fair chance he'd have big cards and that I could get rid of everyone else if I moved all in for a little more than 5K, and even if I did get called I'd have 2 shots at 6 outs. To my surprise the small blind moved all in for 20K and the big blind called him!

When the cards got turned over the small blind hand A7 of diamonds and the big blind had QQ. The turn was a 4 and the river was a 6 and the QQ took down a huge pot. It wouldn't have been crazy for him to fold QQ in this spot after my all in and the other all in from the small blind. If he'd folded I would have won.

In other news I'm on fumes in the $320 NLH, but I'm still in the $109 and $1,050 HORSE and doing OK.

SCOOP Event #7 Underway!

I've been looking forward to event #7 ever since the SCOOP schedule came out. It's HORSE day baby! The low stakes tournament is $109 and started with 2,674 entrants. This is in stark contrast to the daily $109 HORSE tournament that I've won 3 or 4 times which usually has about 50 entrants. Clearly almost everyone in this tournament should be out of their comfort zone. The edge of the money is 520th place and pays $118. First place is $43,452.

The medium stakes tournament is $1,050 and started with 444 entrants which was short of the number pokerstars needed to meet the $500K guarantee. There turned out to be a $33,800 overlay which is $76 a person. Nothing to scream about but it's $126 better than if they'd filled this one up. The edge of the money is 64th place and pays $1,775. First place is $95,000.

I found myself facing a bit of a quandry earlier today. With 30 minutes to go before the start of the $10,300 high stakes HORSE event there were only 29 people signed up. Pokerstars guaranteed a $750,000 prize pool and I found myself thinking "What the hell am I going to do if this thing goes off with 35 players and there is a $10,000+ per person overlay?" It would be like getting into a $20,000 tournament for $10,000, but I'd be playing against the world's best. Luckily enough players signed up at the last minute so I didn't have to think about it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Triple Shootout Results

I was the first person out at any table in the second round! CRAP! I lost half of my chips with a three barrel bluff (a bet on every round) that started as a semibluff. The other half went in the 88 vs AA on a 2 5 6 board. Oh well.

Tomorrow is a big day. I have $109 and $1050 HORSE in the morning and $320 and $3,150 no limit hold 'em in the afternoon.

SCOOP Update!

Todays Omaha tournaments (Event #6) were really bad. I've forgotten what happened in the low, but I was out before the add-on losing $42.

In the medium I forgot to rebuy immediatly and won the first pot so then I had too many chips to rebuy. But I ran my starting stack of 2,500 up to 4,000 or so. Then I got most of those chips in with a straight draw and a pocket pair vs two pair. I had two shots at 10 outs and missed. I lost my remaining 600 chips on the next hand.

I still had a rebuy left so I rebought and got another 2,500 chips. On the very next hand I got it all in with AAxx vs 89TJ and lost. This tournament only lasted 20 minutes for me! On the positive side I went broke before the add-on so I only lost $415.

In other bad news I played 4 satellites and missed in all of them. They were pretty low stakes attempts to win my way into the $3,150 NLH event tomorrow so it's not too surprising that I came up short. The total damage there was $295.

The good news is I made it past the first round of the $162 triple shootout which means I'm in the money!

I got off to a good start and had my 5,000 starting stack up to 8,000 or so right away. Then I sat on it for about 90 minutes. By that time we were down to 3 players and I was up to 10,000 chips and just thinking about getting it heads up (anything can happen heads up!). I worked my stack up to 14,000 by the time there were just two of us, but my opponent had 36,000 so it wasn't looking good.

My opponent was playing too tight for heads up and I slowly built my stack to 22,000 when the key hand of the tournament came up. The blinds were 100/200 and my opponent made it 500 to go from the small blind which was his standard raise. With A8 I made it 1,600 and he made it 4,500. Looking back I should have folded here, but I called instead. I get a little impatient playing heads up with very deep stacks and sometimes I force the action which is actually exactly what I did on the flop.

The flop came down T 7 6 giving me a gutshot straight draw and one overcard. I knew if I cheked my opponent would bet no matter what he had. He bet 5,000 into the 9,000 chip pot and I decided to go for it. I had 17,000 left which I thought was enough that I might get him off a better hand like AJ, AQ or AK or a pocket pair below 6 and even if I got called I knew hitting a 9 would make me a winner. If he had a big ace then hitting my 8 would be good, and if he had a big pocket pair as long as it wasn't aces hitting an ace would be good.

So I moved all in and he instantly called me with KK. Yikes! I was actually 30% to win at this point and feeling hopeful. The turn was a 5 which meant I was now 25% to win with one card to come. Happily the river was a 9 and I had a commanding lead. A few hands later I got the rest of his chip with A9 vs A4. Interestingly I won this shootout without elminating anyone except for the last player! That's pretty rare.

I'm guaranteed a $577 payout, but that's the most I can make unless I win the next round. At the final table however each spot pays a different (large!) amount.

SCOOP Event #5 Underway!

Event #5 M is a $162 NLH Triple shootout. That means we start with 1,000 players at 100 tables of 10 players. Those tables play until only one player is left at each table. Once all the tables have only one player left, those 100 players are put at 10 tables of 10 and the process repeats. When there are only ten players left they are put at the final table and play it out for the title. If you win your first table you're in the money which pays $577. Winning the second round is worth at least $2,100 and first place is $27,400. Given the "small" field this might be my best chance to win a tournament outright. In fact at the WCOOP last year I won my first table and got it down to heads up in round two before I blew a major chip lead! It was heart breaking.

Event #5 L is similar except since the buy in is only $16.50 there is another round and we stared with 9,000 players instead of 1,000! 1st place in that one is a similar $24,800, but you have to beat 9 times as many players to get it!

Event #6 is Pot Limit Omaha and the medium stakes tournament is my first sizable tournament of the series. It's $215 with one rebuy and one add on so basically $615.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Total So Far

After two days of Scooping (There was also a little satellite action before these two days), I'm stuck $70.50 in the low tournaments, winning $269 in the medium stakes and losing $294 in the satellites (I made the money in two of nine). So my $15,000 MHS bankroll stands at $14,975. Like I said before, these first few days are pretty much warm up.

In other news I've decided for sure that I'm going to play the $5,200 6 handed limit SCOOP event (it's towards the end of the series) even if I can't win my way in via satellite. I just can't pass up a major tournament in my specialty. The difference between 6 handed limit play and 9 handed limit play is pretty vast as is the difference between tournament play and cash game play. I don't think there are too many people anywhere who have the combination of expertise and experience in all the aspects that will come into play in this one event. So while shelling out five grand for one tournament is still more than I really feel comfortable with, I just can't pass up this opportunity.

SCOOP Event #4 (M) Recap

This tournament was the antithisys of the draw tournament. Since things escalated quickly it was great fun. Shortly after my last post I ran my stack up to 25,000 chips or so and then went a little card dead. In a tournament with 5 minute limits even a short run of bad cards and be a death sentence. As we got close to the money I had to put on the stall taking as long as possible to act whenever it was my turn so enough people would be eliminated before I was blinded off.

But I made the money! YAY! A few hands after we made the money the blinds were 3,500/7,000 and I was down to 11,000 chips in the big blind. Since way more than half my chips were already in the pot I had to go with whatever cards I got. It just so happened I got 63! YUCK! And two people moved all in in front of me! ACK!

Amazingly I made the best hand. The both had Ax hands, the flop was 5 3 2 giving me the best hand, the turn was a 4 making me way the best hand and the river was a blank. All of a sudden I was up to something like 40,000.

A few hands later I got dealt AQs, got it all in vs JJ and was up to 90K. I peaked at around 110,000 and then I made a thin call. Average was around 150K, the blinds were something like 7K/14K and the cutoff moved all in for about 100K. I had 55 on the button and after some thought I decided to go for it. To my shock and horror the big blind called with 99 and my first opponent turned over AA. I was left with 5K or so and was out on the next hand.

The good news is I finished 153rd of 2,887 which paid $754.

The bad news is I played a few more satellites some of which were not small. I'll add up the total sometime today or tomorrow and let you know the exact numbers. I think I'm losing a little bit overall, but not more than a few hundred.

SCOOP Update

I went broke in the Event #4 (L), but I'm doing OK in the medium stakes. This was a "Turbo" tournament meaning the blinds go up every 5 minutes instead of every 20 or 30. As a result, 90 minutes in and on the first break, we're down to 1,080 from 2,900 entrants. I have 10,800 chips which is a little more than half of average.

The edge of the money is 414th which pays $367 and first place is $103,000.

SCOOP Event #4 underway!

Event #4 (L) $16.50 "2X Chance" started with 14,496 players and after an early miscue I had to use my one rebuy.

In event #4 (M) which started with 2,887 players I'm about where I started with just over 5,000 chips.

They haven't put up the prizes yet. I'll post an update if I go broke or triple up.

5-Card Dud

Man does 5 card draw suck! Every now and then I think to myself "Maybe I'll play a little draw!" Then I do and I am reminded why draw is dead. It is so boring! And on top of that it requires to much thought and focus for me to play well.

I gave it all I had in the $109, but I ran into THREE full houses! The first time I had a straight, the second time I had trips, and the third time I was short stacked and had two pair.

In the $11 I had to bail. It was making me crazy. It had been two hours and there were a few hours to the money which was only $12 at the edge. So I got super aggressive in an effort to either build a huge stack or go broke quickly. Not surprisingly it was the latter.

SCOOP Event #3 Underway!

SCOOP event #3 is PL five card draw with the low stakes being $11 (which started with 4,300 players) and the medium stakes being $109. There's good news and bad news and more good news. The good news is they guaranteed $100,000 in the prize pool of the $109 tournament and there are only 756 entrants. This means pokerstars had to add $17,600 to the prize pool. The bad news is I don't know much about playing 5 card draw! The good news is almost no one else does either!

The biggest weekly 5 card draw tournaments are in the $20 range (They normally have something like 50 players), there are never more than a handful of cash games going, and those are all for small stakes. That means no one really has much experience with this game.

Hopefully I can get some good cards and use my tournament experience and skills from other games to wade my way through.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Brick City!

I came up short is all 4 of my SCOOP tournaments today. The only one in which I sniffed the money was the $5 with rebuys and I went down the tubes with KK vs 99 so there wasn't much I could do.

The Omaha tournaments were a total bust. I was out in less than 90 minutes in both. I know how to play pot limit Omaha and limit Omaha Hi-Lo, but I have to admit that I don't feel really comfortable with pot limit Omaha Hi-Lo. It's just a wierd game. Frankly I don't know why anyone plays it.

The good news is I won a $32 satellite to a $320 SCOOP event. So when you factor in the -$109 for the earier satellite, the -$105 for the $55 with rebuys and the -109 for the Omaha (M), my MHS bankroll (Medium/High/Satellite - basically my backer bankroll) only took a $35 hit. My low bankroll took a $26.50 hit.

Today was pretty insignificant as far as the sereis goes. It was really almost like a prologue. In fact the first 5 events are pretty much warm up.

Tomorrow I have $11 and $109 Pot Limit 5-card draw in the morning (that's going to be an adventure!) and $16.50 and $162 NL hold'em 2x chance in the afternoon.

The 2X chance format is interesting. Basically the way it works is if you go broke during the first hour you can buy another starting stack for the same amount as the initial buy in, but otherwise there are no rebuys and it plays just like a regular tournament.

Looking at the schedule Sunday is really going to be key. That day I have $1,050 HORSE, $320 NLH and $3,150 NLH. One way or another that day is probably going to be really good or really bad.

SCOOP Underway!

So far today I've only played one satellite and I came up short losing $109.

SCOOP Event #1 (L) $5 with rebuys started with an insane 27,134 players. I'm in for the minimum of $15 and up to 30,000 chips. Not bad since the initial buy in and one rebuy only gets you 5,000. The edge of the money is 5,400th place and pays $17, while first place in a whopping $41,000.

Event #1 (M) $55 with rebuys started with a more reasonable 4,057 players. I didn't instantly rebuy because I spaced out, and then I won the first hand so I had too many chips to rebuy. So the good news is I'm only in for $105. The bad news is I didn't make much progress and I only have about the number of chips you get for one buy in one rebuy and the add on (8,900). The edge of the money is 600th place and pays $243, while first place pays $98,000.


The SCOOP will kick off today (April 2nd) with NL hold 'em with rebuys and Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. The low stakes NLH will be $5.50 with rebuys. There are already an astounding 16,000 people registered for this tournament and there will surely be thousands more signing up. Given the structure this means it could a looong time to play. There are 15 minute limits and pokerstars has 72 levels listed in the tournament lobby with the last being blinds of 25 million and 50 million! That means the big blind will be 20,000 times the size of the initial chip stack! I guess they are counting on a TON of rebuys!

The medium stakes will be $55 with rebuys and has a more modest 1,400 people signed up so far. I plan to skip the high stakes which is $530 with rebuys. All of these events start at 11:30 pacific.

At 1:30 the PLO8 low stakes will be $11 and the medium stakes will be $109.

I feel like the low stakes events might be insanely boring, but I feel like there is some prestige even given the tiny buy ins. I'd also like to take a shot at cashing in more SCOOP events than anyone period.

I discovered today that like the WCOOP the SCOOP will feature "second chance" tournaments that are played two hours after the start of the main SCOOP events and involve the same game and the same (or sometimes lower) buy in. I've included them in my backer package. I don't know what the fields or exact buys in will be for these tournaments, but I assume I'll be playing quite a few of the medium and high stakes second chance events.

I'll keep you posted on all my results.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Final Table Recap!

When I last left off I was giving the details of a $109 mulittable tournament I played with 756 entrants. I told you that I made the final table, but didn't let on how deep I went. Of course most of you who read this blog already know how I did since it was a week ago, but I'll leave the rest of you in suspense as I go.

Final table play started on hand #405 (for me - since other players were at different tables they played differnet numbers of hands). I had 224K chips, the chip leader had 475K and the short stack hand 160K. With the blinds only at 3.5K7K with a 700 chip ante and the chip stacks so even we were looking at a long final table.

On the very first hand the short stack raised to 21K from the small blind, and then called all in with J9 suited when the player I mentioned in my last post (Johne147) moved all in from the big blind with AK. The AK held up and the short stack took home a little more than $1,000 for 9th place.

I took over the position of the short stack two hands later. I was in the small blind with A9s, the button made it 18,875 to go, I reraised to 56,000 and he moved all in for 161,400. I might have had the best hand here, but with the blind still small compared to my stack, I decided to be paitient and fold.

On hand #425 we lost another one. Johne147 took out another player with a massive bad beat. He raised to 20K with 99 and got called by a player in the field. The blinds folded, the flop came down T 5 4 and both players checked. I'm guessing Johne figured the other player was trying to trap with AA or KK (which is just what I thought too) since he checked the turn (which was a 2) also. His opponent bet out 24K and johne just called. The river was a 9 Johne check raised all in, his opponent called with AA and was out in 8th place! It was a pretty dramatic hand. 8th place paid a little over $1,700 so don't feel too bad for the fellow with the aces!

On hand #446 a player moved all in for 173K with 66, ran into AA, and took home $2,400 for 7th place.

By hand #450 I'd wiggled my way up over 275K without ever going past the flop or winning any kind of big pot. I simply raised and reraised when I thought my opponents would fold or if I had a good hand. Sure enough they were all in the mode of trying to move up one more spot and I was able to exploit them.

Hand #454 was one of my favorite hands. The blinds were up to 5K/10K I got dealt AJ on the button and the short stack who only had 109K was in the big blind. I made it 30K to go and I said to my wife "I hope the big blind moves all in with something like AT." He moved all in, I called and he turned over AT! HA! To my shock and horror the flop was Q T 2! I immediatly said "Put a King on the turn." Guess what? There was a king on the turn! HA! Amazing! The river was a blank, I was up to 400K and my opponent got $3,200 for 6th.

Johne147 did some more work for the table on hand #466. He made it 24K to go, a player moved all in for 207K he called with AT and won vs A7. The fifth place player got $3,900 for his efforts.

When I started the final table of course I wanted to win, but I knew I'd be completely satisfied if I could make it to at least 5th.

I worked my way up to 580,000 through blind steals and then lost 175K on hand #485 when Johne147 had KK vs my QJ and I hit a J.

But I got my vengence a few hands later! I had 99 in the small blind and Johne made it 29K to go from the button. I reraised to 84K, he went all in and I called. I figured with a bigger pair he would have just called my reraise or made a smaller raise. Sure enoug he had AQ, but the board was all small cards and I was up to 840K!

Now it was on! I knew I was the best player and now I hand the most chips too. This is what you play for! I knew if I stayed patient and didn't take a major bad beat I had a chance to win this thing.

My nemisis Johne147 took a chunk of his chips back on hand #500. We both flopped a pair, I turned two pair and he rivered trips. Luckily we both checked the flop and the board had straight and flush possibilities so I only lost 250K.

But I got those chips right back on hand #508 when I turned a pair of aces vs the pair of kings he'd made on the flop.

Nothing happened for the next 10 hands, then I layed the smack down! The blinds were 8K/16K and the button made a massive overbet by going all in for 350K. A little earlier I saw him limp in on the button with KK so I knew he was inclined to play slow with big hands. This looked like a small pair or a weak ace to me. I had 770K chips at this point and I got dealt AJ. I might not have called for my entire stack, but for half I decided to go for it. He turned over 44, the flop was 3, K T, the turn was a 2 and I started calling for a queen. Instead I got an ace and took down a sweet pot. Now I was up to 1.14 million chips and third my opponent was out the door in 4th place with $5,600.

By hand #536 I was up to 1.4M and got AJ again. This time I raised to 60K, got reraised all in to 430K by KJ, and when all the cards were out I took down a major pot. My opponent took home $7,500 and we were down to two.

It was just me and Johne147! Of course it wasn't exaclty a fair fight. I had 1.9M and he only had 386K. He started moving all in on all of his small blinds and it was just a matter of waiting for a real hand to call him.

On hand #543 he moved all in with 56s, I had KJ, made the call, flopped a K, and that was it! BOOM! Take that Johne!

Second place paid my nemisis a little over $10,000, and for first place I took down $14,175! YAY!

This was one of the best tournaments I've ever played. I hardly made any mistakes and when I did it still worked out. This was a great boost going into the SCOOP. Hopefully I can play as well and have similar results.

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...