Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Let's Oak it Up!

After my recent online woes, I've been taking a break and spending a fair amount of time at the Oaks club playing against live opponents. The 15 minute commute isn't as fun as the 10 second commute from my bed to my computer, but I guess I can't complain.

The biggest game at the Oaks is $30/$60 limit hold'em and there are a few solid regulars. I have my eye on that game, but for now I'm sticking to $15/$30 where it seems not a single player is any better than just average.

Most players let their ego get in the way of making the best decisions in spots like these. Do I think I can beat the Oaks club $30/$60? I'm 99% sure that I can. But that doesn't mean it's the most profitable thing to do. Even if I'm the best player in the game, if everyone else is pretty good, I'd rather play for less money against a bunch of greatly inferior players. Even if the money is the same long term it's better to win one big bet per hour at $15/$30 than half a big bet per hour at $30/$60 because you'll face smaller fluctuations and less stress.

I've played 6 sessions averaging about 5 hours apiece and picked up $1,743 in the process. This is a very, very small set of data, but it's not an accident. There are no pros in the $15/$30 game and recreational players just can't keep up with someone who has played well over a million hands of limit hold'em against tough competition.

Another thing that's great about playing in person is players can't dodge me. Players mainly stick to one stakes and if there is only one game going they are stuck. No one is going to leave the game just because I joined and it got tougher. Whereas online there are a zillion games going and it takes 30 seconds to get into a new one.

Hopefully I can keep the money rolling in from the Oaks players for a while.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When to Go For It and When to Hold Back

I wrote this post on 10/20, but didn't finish it until 10/24. Rather than fix stuff like "yesterday" or "last Saturday" I just put this little sentence in.

I've been playing a lot of small stakes multitable tournaments lately with some success. In fact I keep cashing for about $1,200.

Shortly after my last post I finished 2nd in a $55 tournament with 100 or so entrants on Absolute which paid $1,150. Then on Saturday I had a $2,000 day, $1,175 of which came from winning a $22 tournament with about 200 entrants on Pokerstars. And yesterday I finished 3rd in a $55 tournament on Absolute with 241 entrants which paid $1,200. Of course I have been playing a lot of tournaments so it's not like that's all profit, but it has still been a good run.

During my time at the tables recently I came across a risky situation where going for it was clearly the thing to do in a spot where weaker players might not have and another where taking a very conservative approach was the way to go.

The first situation came in a $55 tournament on pokerstars with about 1,100 entrants that paid 153 spots. The blinds were 500/1,000, I was in the big blind with 14,000 chips behind, and we were down to 157 players. I got dealt AQ suited and when the action made it around to the small blind he moved all in for 20,000.

We'd started the tournament with 3,000 chips so I wasn't too far off of average which was about 21,000. The decision I was faces with was, fold and make the money for sure or call and potentially go broke.

Almost all pros would agree that if you can avoid risking your whole stack on one hand you should and anyone can tell you that going broke just short of the money totally sucks. Also often times when a player overbets the pot preflop like this they have AK which would completely dominate my AQ.

With that said, my opponent knows we're only a hand or two away from making the money and if I was in his shoes I'd be raising any two cards from the small blind (I wouldn't got all in with any two, but I'd raise something).

What was running though my mind was if I played this situation 100 times (or 1,000) would I make more by folding and bringing home at least the $75 for 153rd place 100% of the time or would I make more by sometimes going broke and losing my $55 but in but other times taking a stack of 31,000 (about 150% of average) into the money?

I'd be pretty close to even money against an underpair, but I'd be 3 to 2 against suited connectors, 2 to 1 against total garbage unders and 7 to 3 against a worse ace. Most importantly I thought the chance of being dominated by AA, KK, QQ or AK was negligible. Those hands make up about 2% of the starting card combinations and even with AK it would be a rare opponent who would move all in here.

Pile that all together and I figured I was at least 60% against his range. Now if you do a detailed analysis you might find that it's worth about $84 more to call than to fold. Of course you might not find that because you worked it out correctly and the shit I just did is total garbage loaded with fallacies. Which is why I deleted it out of frustration! With that said, $84 seems about right.

The brass tacks is, even though I was just short of the money it was still worth it to go for it. In the end I let my time bank run all the way down to give myself the best chance to sneak in to the money before I called. When the cards got turned over I was up against A6 off suit which meant I was 72% to win and 6% to tie.

A 6 came on the flop and I finished 155th, but despite that fact it would have been a major mistake to fold here.

At the same time I was playing in a $55 tournament on Absolute with about 100 entrants (I mentioned it above). I went into full on beast mode and by the time we were down to 5 players I was in first with 75,000 chips. The player dead to my left (let's call him Jerk Face) was in second with 70,000 and the other three players all had between 10,000 and 20,000.

One of my great strengths is finding situations where I can raise with any two cards and show positive expected value. After you've played a zillion tournament you get a sense for when other players are going to fold unless they find a total monster hand. At most final tables in tournaments of this size with players of this caliber playing loose aggressive is the only way to go. Every now and then you'll blow up an finish 8th or 9th, but much more often you'll end up at the top. When I get to a final table with an average stack or more I tend to win outright.

As per usual, in this case it was my aggressive style and not the cards I was getting that led to my sizable stack. But when we got to five handed I had to shift gears. On the first hand that we were down to five players I raised, and Jerk Face reraised me. I had total air so I folded. The next time I raised, he reraised me again and again I had to fold. The time after that he moved all in on me with no hesitation. Quit reraising me Jerk Face! At that point if I was going to play a hand it had to be one that could call a suspect all in reraise.

After those three hands the tables had turned a little bit. I was down to 50,000, Jerk Face was up to 95,000 and everyone else was under 15,000. Tough guys always say "I play for first" and generally that's what you should do, but in this case playing for 2nd was clearly the way to go.

Jerk Face was rolling over everyone and they were giving no resistance. While first place was just over $2,000 and that's what I was really shooting for, 2nd was almost $1,200 while 5th was only $500. My 3 short stacked opponents seemed committed to playing super tight and trying to move up one more spot.

I could stand up to Jerk Face with a hand that was better than average (like KJ or A9) since I knew he was on the "any two" track, or I could get blinded off a little and probably end up in 2nd place.

This was a rare situation where playing like a total pussy was actually the best way to go. I'm not saying I was folding premium hands, but I wasn't taking any chances. Just like clockwork, three of my opponent were ground down to a few big blinds, got their money in with Ax and went broke. By the time it was heads up I was down to 40,000 facing a stack of 160,000 which wasn't great, but anything can happen heads up. More importantly I had $1,150 locked up. I got it all in with A5 and lost to KJ, but I was still happy with the 2nd place. If I'd tried to be a tough guy I easily could have finished 4th or 5th and left a few hundred bucks on the table.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How It's Been Going

I didn't quite hit my 500 SNG in a week goal, but I did play about 300 at the $60 level and 100 at the $38 level. I lost $350 at at the higher stakes and $650 at the lower.

This isn't a huge sample size, but I'm still losing confidence in this plan. Since my SNG rebirth I've played 608 tournaments at the $60 level and won $1,288 which is $2.12 per SNG. If you factor in the $997 I've earned in FPPs and other bonus I'm at almost $4 per. At 75 tournaments a day that's $300 a day or at least $6,000 a month.

That seems fine and it is. But I've having trouble trusting it. If you eliminate my first 100 tournaments (and look at the last 500 I've played) I'm only making 65 cents per. If you look at the last 400 I've played I'm losing 56 cents per.

Was I just running really hot in the beginning and now I'm performing at a level that I can expect long term or was I running a little above expectation at the start and a lot below it since?

I'm not really sure what to do. Should I keep plugging away? Should I drop down to the $24 level and just play an insane number of tournaments? Should I try switching to no limit cash games? Which site should I target? What about playing in person at the Oaks? Maybe I should try SNGs on other sites? Maybe I should just lay on the floor face down because I'm not sure I can handle any more losing? These are the thoughts that are rattling around my head all day every day.

To say it's stressful is a massive understatement. The major disadvantage I have over most of my competition is I'm supporting 3 people in Northern California. I can't just live cheap when things aren't going well. While my wife is doing a great job of supporting me however she can, I still have family obligations that get in the way of working all the time.

Part of me (a growing part) wishes we could just move to fucking Nebraska and work at a diner or something.

The other part of me says "Quit being such a pussy! Get back in there and kick some ass! Play better! Be Smarter! You can do it!"

So that's what I'm going to do. Let me see if I can break off 400 $38 tournaments between now and Saturday night. If I can make $3 per that will be $1,200. In the grand scheme of things that ain't much, but it's a start and right now I need some momentum. Also if I keep that goal in the forefront of my mind it will help me from getting overwhelmed. If I can get all my focus on hitting those targets maybe I can block out the panic that I'm constantly swallowing down and play my best.

Monday, October 04, 2010

500 SNG's This Week

I am believer in goals. I set goals all the time and even when I don't meet them (which to be honest is more often than not) I still make more progress than if I hadn't set any goals at all.

My current short term goal is to play 500 single table sit-n-go (SNG's) tournaments between Monday morning and Saturday night. More specifically I am going to play 100 $38 buy in 9 handed SNGs and 400 $60 buy in 9 handed SNGs all on pokerstars.

There is a good reason for this split - the Battle of the Planets leader board! Pokerstars SNG leader board is split into 8 divisions (all named for planets) based on stakes with each division having a "high orbit" and a "low orbit leader board". I'll briefly try to explain how it works.

Every time you finish in the money in an SNG you score points - for 9 handed SNGs it's 45 points for first, 27 for second and 18 for third. The low orbit leader board involves blocks of 20 tournaments and the high orbit leader board uses block of 100. Tournaments 1-20, 21-40, 41-60 etc. will be grouped together as will tournaments 1-100, 101-200, 201-300 etc. Only your first five blocks count for the low orbit leader board, but you can have as many blocks as you like for the high orbit.

Is this all for pride and glory? Of course not! It's for cash! In the "Uranus" division, (where the $60 tournaments fall) the top 15 scores of the week in the high orbit and the top 15 scores in the low orbit pay with 1st place of $1,000 and 15th place of $80 with everything else in between (it's much more of a linear payout schedule than a normal tournament - 2nd place is $700, 3rd is $500 etc.). In the Neptune division (where the $38 tournaments fall) 20 places pay with 1st place being $900 and 20th paying $60. I'm planning to play 100 $38 tournaments so I can have the maximum number of low orbit blocks and one high orbit block.

Of course it's not easy to win one of these leader boards with all of the players out there, but I expect to make some significant money out of this. Even if it's $80 or $100 a week on average that adds a lot to my bottom line over the course of the month and the year.

Maybe as important, this keeps me motivated. I want to win one of these leader boards! Last week I finished in 11th on the Uranus High orbit leader board which paid $80. This week I want to hit a top ten. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 01, 2010

WCOOP Final Thoughts and MORE!

The 2010 WCOOP came at kind of a bad time. I would have liked to play more events, but in the midst of the worst downswing on my poker life taking shots at a big payday didn't seem like the smartest move.

In the end I played 14 events and had 4 cashes which isn't too bad. Unfortunately it's not about having a good percentage of cashes, it's about hitting that one big one. I also went 0 for 2 in satellites and 0 fo 1 in second chance tournaments.

When all was said and done my $5,000 bankroll was down to $3,760.

I don't expect to be doing much in terms of multitable tournaments, with the exception for occasionally playing the pokerstars Sunday Million or Sunday Warm up.

For now I'm on the SNG grind. I've been peppering absolute and pokerstars playing everything from $35 six handed hyper-turbos to 45 player $60 tournaments to $114 9 player SNGs. All in all I've played about 500 tournaments in the last week. My best results have been coming in the $60, 9 handed turbo SNG's on pokerstars. I've played 228 so far and won $1,863 which is $8.17 per tournament. Factor in another $1.50 per SNG in FPPs and other bonuses and we're talking big bucks if I can keep that rate up. This is actually a pretty small sample size, but it's still promising. We'll see how I'm doing after 2,000 and that should give me a more precise feel for my long term prospects.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wake Me Up When September Ends

It's much more fun for me to talk about the good news than the bad news, but bad news is a big part of playing poker. Simply put, September 2010 has been the worst month of my poker career.

August was a good month. In fact in the middle of August I went on a massive tear. I played about 10 full days over a two week stretch, won 9 of those days and banked $15,000 all in limit hold'em cash games. Maybe 10% of that money came from $30/$60, but the rest was all $10/$20 or $15/$30.

Just before that run I made the decision to play a little looser. Pokertableratings.com has a feature where you can look up a username and see how they do things compared to the top 10 winners on a given poker site at a given stakes. When I looked myself up I saw that I was playing slightly tighter than the top 10 winners at $10/$20 and $15/$30.

I didn't go nuts, but in every situation where it was close before the flop I called or raised instead of folding. Winning 600 or 700 big bets in 10 sessions is uncharted territory for me, but it was over the course of 15,000 hands and there are guys who make over 3 big bets per 100 hands long term. Of course those guys are the total killers, but it's possible and I was hoping I was playing better not just running crazy hot.

After taking my Absolute poker account from $5,000 to $20,000 in no time at all I was feeling as good as I have in a long while about my long term prospects of massive fortune.

Then it was as if a switch was flipped. All of a sudden I couldn't win no matter what. I didn't have a winning day from August 26th until September 14th. Every day$1,000 or $2,000 was evaporating from my account. I tried everything I could think of to give myself the best chance to win. I mixed in some days off, reread some of my best poker books, started playing at night when the games are better, played fewer games at a time and played smaller stakes. Nothing worked.

Here is a little story that is sort of a microcosm of my first two weeks of September. It is a story about THE WORST PLAYER IN ONLINE POKER! His name is CHUCK999. When I first looked him up he was losing $210,000 in 70,000 hands. That's bad, but not unheard of for high stakes players. This guy had lost that much playing $15/$30 and below! His most common stakes is $2/$4 where he's losing $58,000 in 28,000 hands! All in all he is losing FORTY SIX BIG BETS per 100 hands! That is totally off the charts.

To put it into perspective, if there is a player who is losing 5 BB/100 (that's $1 for every hand at $10/$20 - play 1,000 hands, lose $1,000) or more they are bad enough that they can make a game profitable all by themselves. If I'm up against someone who is a 10 BB/100 loser I won't leave the game until they go broke no matter who else is in it or what else I could be doing with my time. I've seen a few guys in the range of -15 BB/100, but they had all been blown up playing no limit. 99% of this guy's play is limit.

I'd been fortunate enough to play against this fellow for about an hour at $10/$20 and I knew I could never leave a game in which was playing. I'm mean N-E-V-E-R. If the house is on fire but the flames haven't reached my desk yet I'm going to keep playing.

Towards the end of the time that I'd been getting totally bombed every day I saw CHUCK999 was playing $15/$30 at a 4 handed table and there was a seat open. I DID NOT want to play 4 handed $15/$30. That's a volatile game and I was looking for stability, but I had to play.

I lost $1,000 in 7 minutes and then CHUCK999 left the table. FUCK! The thing about this guy is he was putting in 3 or 4 bets on the turn and the river with NOTHING! I don't mean over playing middle pair, I mean a pure bluff cap on the river with 6 high! So think about the kind of money you'd lose if for example he made two pair against you when you had top pair and then ON THE VERY NEXT HAND he made a straight against your over pair. Do you know how frustrating it is to have someone cap an 8 high gutshot draw on the turn when you have pocket kings and then hit it on the river? I do!

Losing $500 pots to thin draws always sucks. But getting crushed like this after not having a winning day for weeks hurts. That's the only way to describe it. It just hurts.

Trying to shift gears I started playing a little on pokerstars. I saw that they'd reworked the way they award VPPs and now it would be a little easier for me to earn rewards. The way it used to work is every time you were dealt into a hand where $1 was raked you earned one point, and if $2 or more was raked you got two points. Now for every $1 raked 5.5 points are awarded and split evenly between every player who is dealt into the hand (the count the rake and split the points down to the penny or the hundredth of a point).

After some experimentation I saw that I could earn points about 25% faster than before! That is a HUGE deal. I would mean I could make it to supernova elite with 75% of the effort I needed before. "This is great!" I thought. "I've found the solution!" I thought.

I played 10,000 hands of $5/$10 over three days and won about $1,000 (not counting the points and other rewards). Not earth shattering, but I felt like I could grind it out and pay the bills. Then I lost $1,000 a day three days in a row.

That might still be the answer, but for now I've shifted gears again trying to find something that works. The past few days I've been playing sit-n-go's. I've played about 15,000 SNGs in my career and it was what I did full time for maybe two years at the start of my career. 3 days into the experiment I'm about even, but I feel like the play is much worse than it was when I switched away from SNGs in 2006. My plan now is to play about 80 a day at the $55 level and make $3 per tournament. If I can do that, when you factor in the points or the rakeback I'll be able to make enough to pay the bills.

If that doesn't work, it might be time to start thinking about closing the door on poker as a career for a little while and moving on to the next chapter of my life.

In other news as a result of this massive horrible run I haven't been playing any WCOOP tournaments. But I will be playing the $215 NL hold'em event tomorrow which is the last day of the 2010 WCOOP.

Monday, September 13, 2010

WCOOP 5 Event Summary

After my last post I've played 5 more WCOOP events: $265 Knockout, $109 8-game mixed games, $109 NL hold'em (10 minute levels), $215 limit hold'em, and $215 NL hold'em.

There isn't too much to say about this group. In 4 of the 5 I did no better than doubling my starting stack before getting busted.

But I did squeak into the money in the $109 NLH event. I used some major stalling and a little luck to make the money with a stack that was barely more than we started with. I went broke the first hand after the money bubble, but still got paid $200 for the cash.

After 10 events, 2 satellites, and 1 second chance tournament my $5,000 starting bankroll is at $4,208.

My next 3 events are $320 mixed hold'em (half limit/half NL) Tuesday at 10, $320 8-game mixed games Wednesday at 2, and $320 HORSE Saturday at 2. These are all in my wheelhouse and I'm hoping for at least one strong showing.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

WCOOP #11 ($320 Ante up) Recap

The way this tournament structure works is the blinds stay at 5/5 for the entire tournament (effectively no blinds) while the antes (which start from hand 1) increase.

The reason I LOVE this structure is that half the players seem totally unable to use their brains. By level 5 (still in the early stages) the antes are 50 per player per hand. That means that there is 460 in the pot before any action has taken place. If you call the 5 chips preflop even at a crazy aggressive table you have a shot at winning those chips.

I'd say 1/3 of the time we were taking the flop with no raise. You'd think with those kind of pot odds everyone would call the 5 chips and see as many flops as possible.

Even when the antes added up to thousands of chips in the pot, maybe half the players at my tables were folding for 5 chips before the flop! This tournament was one of the two or three I was most looking forward to because I remember it from last year (I went a little deep in the money then) and they only run tournaments with this structure a few times a year.

We started with 1,789 entrants with 5,000 chips each and I got off to a crazy good start. I turned a set of aces against a set of nines and took out one player and then flopped top set against TWO players who went nutso with draws. About 2 hours into the tournament I was in 1st place with 30,000 chips and 1,000 players left.

I felt sure I would just cruise into the money, but then I hit a major speed bump. I came in for a raise with A5 of hearts. The antes were 100 a player and I made it 600 to go. The big blind who had 17,000 chips to my 27,000 (both big stacks) called and the flop came down 9 8 6 with two hearts.

My opponent checked and I bet 1,500 into the 2,100 chip pot with my flush draw- gutshot-overcard. He took it to 4,500 and I figured he probably paired the 9. Thinking if he didn't have more than one pair and knowing I'd have outs no matter what he had I dropped the all in bomb without hesitation. He called with surprising speed.

When the hands got turned over I saw that he had 78 of hearts. For a split second I thought "Ah ha! He has a worse flush draw!" But then I saw he had a pair too (and a straight draw). The turn and river were both bricks and I was down to 10,000.

But from there I went on a run. By this point I was seeing maybe 40% of the flops for 5 chips and shooting out half pot sized bets which were bringing home the antes with shocking frequency.

I had my stack all the way back up to 39,000 when someone got KK vs my AA! That monster took me to 75,000, put me into the money and had me in 25th place with 225 players left.

I got it up to 120,000 as we made it down to 100 players and I was starting to think about the final table. Then I had three hands go against me.

On the first hand I raise with QJ, got two callers and the flop came down jack high with two hearts. I bet about 2/3 of the pot and got one caller. The turn was an ace (YUCK!) and we both checked. The river was the jack of hearts, I checked, called a 3/4 pot sized bet and lost to a flush. That might sound like a pretty pedestrian pot, but that late in a tournament losing one at showdown meant it was a huge pot.

A few hands later I got dealt KK and just called a preflop raise. The flop came down ace high and the preflop raiser check raised me all in on the flop. Yuck again!

That took me down to 60,000, but I chopped out a few small pots and was on my way back up with close to 80,000 when I made some very questionable decisions.

I got dealt AT suited in early position, the antes were 800 each (meaning 7,200 chips in the pot) and the player to my right raised to 4,000. I thought about folding or reraising both of which would have been better than what I did, which was just call.

A third player called behind and we took the flop which came down J T 4 with two spades. There was close to 20K in the pot and after the original raiser checked I bet out 14K. The other player called and the original raiser folded.

Here is here things got dicey. The turn was a blank and I was faced with a tough decision. There was 50K in the pot and I had about 55K left. I could either check and give up on the pot (my opponent had a solid stack and I was all but sure he'd fire if I checked) or go for it and move all in.

I thought for a few seconds and for some reason I decided my opponent was on a draw with either two spades or KQ. So I moved all in and got instacalled by AJ. No ten on the river and that was it.

I finished 72nd which paid $1,153. Certainly not a bad result, but I was hoping for more.

Meanwhile I played the $215 ante up second chance. It had the same structure as event #11 and had about 500 players. I got off to a good start doubling my starting stack, but I didn't do anything beyond that.

Also in WCOOP Event #12 $215 heads up matches, I won my first match, be went down the tubes in the second.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

WCOOP Update

I am rolling in the WCOOP ante up tournament. Almost 2 hours in an I'm in first place overall with 30,000 chips up from 5,000 to start.

I'll be playing the $215 buy in ante up second chance tournament at 1. I love this format!

I just wanted to remind those of you who have a piece of my action that you will have a piece of this and any other second chance WCOOP tournament or WCOOP satellites.

Also I have heads up matches at 2. Busy WCOOP day!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

WCOOP Event #5 ($320 6-max shootout) Recap

This event was on my "maybe" list when I first saw the WCOOP schedule, but when the time came I decided to play.

For those of you who don't know what a "shootout" is, the way it works is you start with a table of players and they play until just one is left. Then that player moves on to the next round where everyone at the second table is a winner from the first round and so on.

In this case we started with 1296 players split into 216 table of six. The 216 players who won their first table were then put at 36 tables. The 36 winners of those second round tables were put at six tables and the winner of those tables came together at the final table.

We started with 5,000 chips, 20 minute levels and blinds of 25/50. I caught my first big break when I got dealt K7 suited in the big blind and called the small blind's raise. It turned out that he had K6 and the flop came down K 7 6! It's pretty hard to screw a hand like this and when the dust cleared I had 12,300 chips.

A little while later I took AQ up against A8 and despite an 8 on the flop I took down the pot and had a commanding lead of 17,000 chips to my opponent's stacks of 9,000 and 4,000.

By this time the blinds were all the way up to 40/80! There was zero blind pressure and I did my best to stay patient and wait for really good spots to get my chips in.

By the time we got to heads up I had a 21,000 to 9,000 chip advantage and it didn't take long for me to stick it to my opponent.

On the 175th hand of round 1 I raised to 240 with A2, my opponent reraised to 560 and I just called. The flop came down 2 2 7 - BINGO! I was expecting my opponent to bet and I wasn't sure if I should put in a raise on the flop or wait for the turn. To my surprise he checked and I decided to check behind him. The turn was the ten of spades putting two spades on the board and again my opponent checked.

I thought there was a chance he had a hand like KK and was really slow playing it hard (if that is a thing you can do hard). If I was going to have any chance of getting his whole stack I needed to bet now and build the pot. I made a pot sized bet and to my delight my opponent moved all in! When he turned over his hand he showed KQ of spades meaning he had 7 outs, but he missed and I was on to round 2!

Winning my first table was worth $637. At the second table the only thing that mattered was winning since 6th place though 2nd place all paid the same amount. 1st place however was worth just north of $2,700 plus the chance to play at another table where winning would be worth at least $9,600.

At my second table I got off to another great start. Again we started with the same structure - 6 players with 5,000 chips and blinds of 25/50. Early on I took A9 up against AK, the flop came down A 9 7, and I doubled up. A little later I took down a player who made a huge all in raise with K2 on a king high flop. I almost folded, but decided to call with my KQ. After winning that one I had 13,000 chips.

At my peak I had 15,000 chips against stacks of 13,000 and 2,000. But the guy with 2,000 made a comeback and I slipped big time.

The critical hand came after we'd been playing 3 handed for over 100 hands. I was in the small blind with 55 and the button raised to 300. I made it 900 to go and he moved all in for 5,500. I had about 7,500 when the hand started so I'd be left with 2,000 if I called and lost. Normally I'd fold 55 in a heartbeat here, but this was the 4th consecutive time that this guy hand moved all in on me when I reraised him. I'd folded the previous three times and I felt like it was time to take a stand.

When the cards got turned over he had KT and flopped a king. My last 2,000 chips went out the door two hands later when I got them in with AT against AK.

I'm happy to have an early cash under my belt, but I really felt like I was on my way to winning the second round. I just didn't quite get the job done.

$637 is better than a kick in the nuts as they say. Back in action tomorrow with $320 ante up!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

WCOOP Event #1 Recap

Event #1 was $215 no limit hold'em 6 handed. We started with 10,000 chips, 9,001 entrants and a first place of $270,000.

The first hour was very tame, but in the second hour I got jobbed. The blinds were 50/100 and I raised to 250 from the button with 22. I'd raised from the button twice in the recent past and both times the big blind hand made it 800 to go. This time was no different and he made it exactly 800 again.

My opponent had about 6,000 chips and I had 9,000 so if I put him to the test and lost I wouldn't be elimnated. I decided to make a strong play and put him all in. He instantly called me with A6 offsuit. Huh? I was 53% to win before the flop, but after an ace came on the flop I was toast.

This is a situation where if I'd seen his cards after he reraised me I would have played it exactly the same way. What a terrible call!

A little while later I found some more marginal bad luck. I had about 3,000 chips, the blinds were 75/150 and I raised to 450 with KQ. I got one caller (the same guy from the hand above) and the big blind moved all in for about 2,000. I went all in over the top and got called by my nemisis. When the hands got turned over I was in great shape finding myself again the T8 suited and JT suited. What the fuck were these clowns thinking?

I was 48% to win the pot before the flop, but JT flopped a flush and that was it.

None of the plays I made that did me in were slam dunk correct, but I'm happy with how I played.

I'm skipping event #3 and will be back in action with event #5 $320 6-max NL shootout on Monday at 2.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


In some ways poker is a pursuit that lends itself to goals, and in other ways not so much.

Goals like "I'm going to put in X number of hours (or hands) this month" or "I'm going to play within my bankroll" are great and important. But saying "I'm going to win $10,000 this month" or "I'm going to make a final table this week" are not helpful or productive.

If you make significantly better decisions than your opponents in the long run you'll come out ahead. But no matter how well you play terrible shit is going to happen to you at the poker table. Terrible, miserable punishment that will make you shout out "Why?! Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this torture?" Crushing defeat that makes it feel like you're going to puke out your vital organs all over the felt or your keyboard (depending on where you are). Fiery, demented pain that...well you get what I'm saying.

While I'm hoping this will be my best WCOOP ever, and I'm as prepared as I've ever been, I won't be shocked or crushed if I get my doors blown off.

With all that said, I should have 20 shots to do something special. If I can find 5 cashes in there or 1 final table I'll be happy and consider the series a success. But my goals are to take it one hand at a time, take what the table gives me, and make the best decisions that I am capable of making at every turn.

The action starts Sunday at 10 am. Maybe the universe will smile on me and I'll just smash everyone's face in all day long and win the first event. It could happen.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

WCOOP 2010!

The World Championship of Online Poker is back! The 2010 edition of the WCOOP will feature 62 events over 23 days with $50,000,000 in guaranteed prize money! What the WSOP is to live tournaments, the WCOOP is to online tournaments. This is the biggest thing in online poker.

I've had solid success in the WCOOP in the past. There have been 166 events since the WCOOP started in 2002 (they add more every year) and last year there were over 45,000 unique users from over 100 countries who played at least one event. I'm not sure how many events I've played, but I think it's about 75. I do know, however, that I'm 29th all time in WCOOP cashes with 17. That's pretty cool for a series of tournaments this big.

This year, I'm going small relative to years past. Usually I take $10,000 or $15,000 and go for the gusto. But since I haven't done shit in a tournament with a buy in over $200 in recent memory I'm going to take it easy and go in with a $5,000 bankroll.

That's enough for me to play 16 events if I get totally blanked and more likely 20-25. Hopefully I can have a few solid cashes or one final table early and then really go for it.

Here is my schedule for the first week (all times are pacific):

Event #1 9/5 10 am, $215 NLH 6-max ($1.25M Guaranteed prize pool)
Event #3 9/5 2 pm $215 NLH ($2M guaranteed prize pool)
Event #5 9/6 2 pm $320 6-max shootout
Event #11 9/8 11 am $215 NLH "Ante up"
Event #12 9/8 2 pm $215 Heads up matches
Event #14 9/9 11 am $265 NLH 6-max knockout ($50 bounties)
Event #18 9/10 5 pm $109 8-game mixed games (10 minute levels)
Event #19 9/11 10 am $109 NLH (10 minute levels)
Event #20 9/11 2 pm $215 Limit hold'em

Here is the full schedule if you want to check out all of the events.

Hopefully this will be the year I knock one out of the park and have a six figure score.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Equity Comments

After my drubbing at the hands of mental midgets in L.A. I made some remarks about the equity I'd generated in a few of the tournaments. Afterwards there was feverish debate in the comments section of my blog!

Actually there were only two comments, but they were both great (amazingly no one called me a pussy in either of them!) and deserving of a response.

Here are the comments:

Before I say my comment, I'd like you to know I enjoy your blog. It is entertaining and sometimes informative, so please don't stop what you are doing based on a negative comment or two.

I feel like you put too much emphasis on the "Equity" of your chips at a certain stage. The reality is everyone has a similar equity, but only ~10 actually realize some of it and cash. And, nobody ever gets the equity of what their chips were worth. When you bust in the money and had an average stack (call it 12x buy in), you still probably only get 2x your buy-in back. When you get all the chips in the tournament, you still only get the top prize (call it 20% of the prize pool).

What I'm trying to say is, you will always feel like you are running below expectation if you look at that. I don't know specifically what you should look at, but I know that isn't it.

Here is the second one:

"Actually dollar value and chip value usually correspond pretty well throughout the middle portion of MTTs. for example, when playing cashout tournaments, the best EV option is to only rarely cashout for dollar value.
you're right, though, that toward the end, like the final table, chip values and dollar values won't correspond- larger stacks will represent inflated EV, and shorter stacks will underestimate EV."

btw i enjoy the blog-

I agree with both of you. If you have 1% of the chips and no money has been paid out then those chips are worth 1% of whatever is in the prize pool, but that's not really what you should be focused on.

First of all, if you start looking at the equity of the chips you had at your maximum for every tournament you'll convince yourself that you must be the unluckiest person in the world. The frequency with which you double or triple your starting stack is not even close to the frequency that you'll end up doubling or tripling your money.

Also just because you have what it takes to accumulate some chips early on doesn't mean you have what it takes to be a long term winner in tournaments. Plenty of players have no trouble in the early stages and then get nervous when they get close to the money. The give up clear advantages to avoid the risk of going broke and in the end kill their long term chances of profit. The same thing happens to an every greater degree at the final table where players use the lowest risk tactics, instead of the best ones.

I only mentioned the equity I'd generated in the L.A. tournaments because I was trying to think of the best way to quantify that I'd actually played really well in the L.A. tournaments even though I had nothing to show for it.

Thanks again for the comments!

Also briefly to Luis, I don't expect to go for Supernova Elite on Pokerstars next year. The effort required is more than I'm willing to put in, and I've found the limit games on other sites, to be for the most part, a little (or a lot) softer. I do miss playing on pokerstars though. Their software, service, and game selection is by far the best, but the profit margins are not there.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

$216 FTOPS PLO/PLH Recap

I played well in this event right up until the end where I made a rash decision.

We were down to about 220 players with 120 spots paying and blinds of 300/600. I had 15,000 chips (average was about 25,000) and was in the big blind. The small blind had about 40,000 and 100% of the time that it was folded to him when he was in the small blind or on the button he'd raised.

So when it was folded to him the the small blind of course he made it 1,800 to go. At this point I had his range being all 169 possible combinations of two cards. I got dealt K9 so I made it 5,400 to go.

Up to that point everything is good. But when he put me all in I should have folded. I'd be leaving myself with 17 big blinds which was plenty to continue. But I got too attached to my initial read that my opponent was full of shit. I was looking at that pot and thinking that I was getting 2 to 1 on my money when I was probably a 3 to 2 underdog (like I would be against Ax) or maybe 55/45 (like I would be against a small pair).

The problem is there is no way for me to ahead at this point unless I'm against a 4 bet pure bluff. It's a recipe for disaster to put an opponent on a total bluff like that. I didn't need to make the "hero call" here. I'm sure I could have found a better place to get my money in the pot.

In the end my opponent rolled over AK flopped an ace and that was it. This felt like another wasted opportunity.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

FTOPS Briefly

I'll be taking a few shots at the tournaments in FTOP 17.

$216 Half PLO half PL hold'em is underway and I have my 5,000 chip starting stack up to 8,000.

The rest of my schedule is $216 7-game on wednesday at 11, $216 cashout NLH on Thursday at 3, $216 NL 6-max Friday at 11 (hosted by Joe "The Elegance" Beevers) and $216 limit rush friday at 3.

I'll make sure to recap if something interesting happens.

Monday, August 09, 2010

L.A. Misery

I'm home now and finally after many delays ready to give a synopsis on my 6 tournaments at the Bike.

The first was a $335 re-entry tournament. There were four "day 1s" for this event and if you played day 1A and went broke you could try again on day 1B, 1C, or 1D. I ended up playing on day 1D and on that day alone with had almost 600 entrants. In total I think there were 1,500 or so paid entries and a first place prize of $130,000!

We started with 8,000 and I ran my starting stack all the way up to 40,000 before I had two hands go against me. On the first I got a little frisky and it didn't work out. The blinds were 500/1,000 with a 200 ante and I was in the big blind. We took the flop 4 way and it came down A 2 8. After 3 checks the last player to act bet 4,000. I thought there was a fair chance this was total bullshit and I felt like he was a player who could fold a hand as good as a weak ace so I made it 11,000 to go with total air. Before my chips were out of my hand he was all in for 25,000. I folded and he rolled over a set of deuces.

Some time later I was down to about 18,000 chips and the blinds were 800/1,600. Again there were three callers in front of me and I was in the big blind. With the antes there was about 9,000 in the pot and I thought there was very little chance I get called so I moved all in with 34s. Shockingly the second preflop limper had JJ and I was out. I finished about 100th of 600ish needing to get to the top 28 to make day 2.

The equity of those 40,000 chips was $1,500, but I couldn't turn that equity into cash.

The next event was $225 shootout. The structure was pretty fast and I got TT when the big blind had AA. Not much to do there, but go broke. Interestingly I'm 99% sure the guy who busted me was Bill Fagerbakke who played "Dauber" on the TV show Coach.

Later that same day I played $275 NLH with $50 bounties. 10 minutes in I made a set vs top pair and doubled up (I just missed the bounty leaving my opponent with 500 chips). Later in the tournament I picked up one bounty when I busted a short stack, but never really got anything going.

The next day should have been a good one for me. At 1 pm was 6 handed no limit and then at 6 pm was HORSE. Again we started with 8,000 chips, I played great and ran my stack up to 37,000 at my peak.

Then I had three hands go against me. On the first I had QQ and lost about 15K chips to KK. On the second I raised with JJ, got called by Q6 suited, all the money went in on the flop (he flopped a flush draw) and the river was a queen. Finally I had 77, raised under the gun, got called by the player to my left who had A2, and the flop came three aces. Annoying!

The equity of those 37,000 chips was $925, but I couldn't turn that equity into cash.

The HORSE tournament was the hardest loss to take. We started with 160 players and I finished 23rd. We started this one with 5,000 chips and at a time when the average stack was 18,000 I had a chance to scoop a pot that was 70,000 chips. We were playing stud hi-lo and I made an ace high flush and a 7 5 3 2 A low, but the guy who lost his mind with trips and no low made a full house and I got half.

That still put me with 35,000 chips and twice average, but I couldn't get the job done. On my final hand I made trips (playing Stud), got it all in by 6th street and at that point my opponent had a straight draw and a flush draw. I think I was about a 3 to 1 favorite to win a 35,000 chip pot and be above average very close to the money, but he hit and I missed.

Between the 6-max and trhe HORSE I played from 1 in the afternoon to 3 in the morning with no more than a 10 minute break every 2 hours. It was not easy, and it sucked to put in all that effort and lose $500. I did get to spend a few hours playing against Laker's owner Jerry Buss who is an avid poker player and is clearly playing because he enjoys it, not for the money.

The equity of the 35,000 chips I had at my best in the HORSE was $1,400, but I couldn't turn that equity into cash.

My final tournament was another $335 re-entry. Again I doubled my starting stack of 8,000 to 16,000, but didn't get the breaks I needed when the stakes got big.

The total damage for my trip was -$1,620.

I have to say I'd give the people who ran the tournament a C-. Every time a floorman was called to make a decision they seemed like an idiot who took forever to grasp the situation. Also once I saw a decision that was flat out wrong.

Another thing I didn't like was the juice. I everyone one of these tournaments the juice was more than 10%. Then on top of that for an extra $10 (that went to the staff as a tip) you could get an extra 2,000 chips. So for $335 you could get 6,000 chips or for $345 you could get $8,000. What a fat pile of shit. If you're going to make the juice 15% and give some of it to the staff, fine, but don't make it seem like there is a choice to be made.

Actually, not fine. 15% juice is fucking ridiculous. If you can't run a $300 tournament unless you make it 15% juice, make it a $500 tournament with 10% juice.

I also managed to drop $3,000 playing online while I was there and bricked in a $535 FTOPS HORSE event (with 7% juice - just for comparison). I was not a profitable week.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A Comment Response

Someone put a nasty comment on one of my posts asking how I could be down $33,000 on pokerstars and still call myself a pro poker player. While I'm not going to post the comment I am going to address the issue.

It's true that if you look up Acesedai on pokertableratings.com it will show that since August 2008 when they started tracking me I'm a substantial loser in the game play. But that is a small part of the story. It also says that I've played 465,000 hands.

That many hands earned me about 700,000 VPPs. I was supernova for about half those hands and supernova elite for the other half so that's about 3,000,000 FPPs. Those FPPs are worth $48,000. Also pokerstars has milestone bonuses. I won't go through the specifics, but I made more than $25,000 in milestone bonuses during that stretch. Then there's the supernove elite year end bonus which was $30,000 in free tournament entries.

The long and short of it is I sacrificed profit in the games, played many games at a time and many hours to get all the FPPs and bonues. It's not glamorous, but it's money.

Let's not forget that I have accounts at 6 different poker websites and use them all.

Also this doesn't take into account the fat pile of money I made playing tournaments, during this stretch. All you have to do is read my blog and you can find out about the 20 wins I've had in my career of over $10,000.

Also none of the money I've made playing in person shows up in anyway
Look up Patrik Antonius and you'll find him losing 2.6 million on fulltilt, but he's one of the top 50 players in the world. As of a month ago Daniel Negranu was losing $300,000 on pokerstars and he is also one of the most famous and successful players in the world. No database takes everything into account.

So that is how I can be "down $33,000 on pokerstars" and call myself a poker pro.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

L.A. Update Coming

I've been busy playing tournaments here in the L.A. area. I haven't been doing great, but I have been busy. I don't have anything planned for tomorrow so I'll be recaping all the action then.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Legends of Poker

I'm leaving tomorrow for a mix of vacation and poker in Southern California. The poker will be playing a half dozen tournaments in the "Legends of Poker" series at The Bicycle Casino.

Here is my schedule:

7/31 6 pm $335 "re-entry" NL hold'em
8/2 1 pm $225 NL hold'em shootout
8/2 6 pm $275 NL hold'em with $50 bounties
8/3 1 pm $225 NL hold'em 6 handed
8/3 6 pm $225 HORSE
8/4 6 pm $330 NL hold'em Deep stack
8/6 6 pm $335 "re-entry" NL hold'em
8/7 6 pm $335 "re-entry" NL hold'em

The re-entry tournaments are interesting. The first one on my schedule is actually day 1D of a massive tournament where if you bust out you can reenter. Day 1A was yesterday, 1B is today, and 1C is tomorrow. If you go broke on any of those days you can try again the next day. And if you go broke before a certain level you can try again the same day.

The last two tournaments on my schedule are the same (In fact they are days 1A and 1B). If I don't make it through day 1A, I'll try again on day 1B. Hopefully I won't have to fire too many bullets in these and can get into a tournament with a huge prize pool for not to much cash.

The other tournaments are pretty standard, but I'm looking forward to playing a field that should be almost all amateurs rather than the fields of all pros at the WSOP. I'm sure my online hourly rate is higher than my expected hourly rate in these tournaments, but they should be enjoyable and if nothing else I'm looking at this as a training exercise.

If I can find two deep cashes or one final table the series will be a solid success.

I'll be tweeting updates on every break so you can follow the action as it happens.

The FTOPS starts on August 4th so that will be intertwined with the LOP action, but I'll post more on that later.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An Interesting Article

Apparently someone has succeeded in using "bots" - computer programs that make all the decisions - to beat some of the small stakes games on pokerstars. It looks like the jig is up now though. It also seems like they did a shitty job with the tactics based on some of the moves they had the bots make.

Here is the full story.

I talked to a guy in Vegas once who had created a bot and tried it out. He said he let it run for about 8 hours in three $.02/$.04 cent limit games. At the end it was ahead a total of about $30 which is 750 big bets! That would be $15,000 at $10/$20! He said they caught him the next day and closed his account.

I'm sure there are some other bots out there, but for the most part, I'm not worried about them getting the best of me. And even if I knew for 100% sure that there were lots of the most advanced bots constantly playing in the exact games I play, it wouldn't stop me from playing since I'm winning anyway.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Legends of Poker, FTOPS, and UBOC

August is going to be a busy month for me.

At the start of the month I'm going to spend a week in southern California with plans to play 7 or 8 tournaments in the "Legends of Poker" series at the Bicycle Casino. All of the tournaments are in the $225-$330 range so we're not talking life changing stakes, but there will still be some significant cash on the line . Also I'm looking forward to playing some live tournaments without the massive pressure of the WSOP.

Starting Aug 4th the 17th version of the Full Tilt Online Poker Series kicks off. Looking at the schedule there are 10 events that look playable to me with buy ins ranging from $216 to $640.

Finally starting on August 18th is the Ultimate Bet Online Championship. I'm likely to play another 9 or 10 events in this series with buy ins ranging from $162 to $1,050.

All of this tournament action will if nothing else lead to a boat load of blog posts in August. More details later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Drunken Final Table

When I came back from the WSOP I spent some time neglecting my cash games and instead playing multitable tournaments. In Vegas it took me 7 playing days to play 4 tournaments. But back at home base I could play 10 (or more) in a day with little difficulty. It was very hard to resist and I was salivating thinking about winning something outright or at least going deep.

But after a bunch of bricks I instead moved my focus back to cash games. There's nothing sexy about $15/$30 limit hold'em, but it pays the bills and that is always the primary goal for me.

In order to get my multitable fix a few time recently I found myself playing multitables recreationaly. Almost all of my playing is at my desktop with my 30 inch monitor and no distractions. It's serious business and requires maximum focus. When I say recreational I mean smaller stakes, in front of the TV on my laptop, with a beer or a glass of wine.

On Friday I spent the morning playing tennis and the early afternoon at a movie. I banged out about 500 hands of cash games in the late afternoon and even though I intended to play 2 or 3 times that much, I hit and ran when I found myself up $1,500.

That night seemed the perfect time for some recreational play. At 7:45 I jumped into a $33 with rebuys towards the end of the rebuy period on Absolute and shortly after I was in two $75 tournaments on Full Tilt and a $77 6-max NL on pokerstars. That is also when I started drinking.

When I first started playing online in 2004 it was not unusual for me to have a drink or two or three when I was playing. But it became perfectly clear in no time at all that it was affecting my results. I felt like I was making the same decisions, but clearly I wasn't. After this realization, I had a span of years in the middle of my career where I never had a drop of alcohol while I was playing.

While it's certainly not optimal, after a few million hands and a thousands of tournaments (ten of thousands if you count sit-n-go's), a few drinks doesn't throw me off like it used to. I guess I'd say it takes my "A' game out of play, but usually I'm still capable of my "B" game.

Fast forward a few hours into my story and I'm still in the the $33 with rebuys. We started with about 175 players and 18 spots paid. I made the money with more than twice an average stack.

This was the ultimate no fear situation. I was up $1,500 on the day in the cash games, I'd been drinking for 3 or 4 hours, and while 1st place was just over $4,500, 9th was less than $300. This was a situation where I was not fucking around. I was going for the top.

On the other hand my opponents went into full blown pussy mode. I was raising at least 50% of the hands that were folded to me and getting away with it. Soon I was in the tournament chip lead. If someone played a hand and didn't move all in, I was frequently reraising no matter what my cards looked like.

There really weren't many big hands to speak of, because on so many pots my cards didn't matter. From the time we made the money until the end I never had more than half my stack in the pot.

The biggest break I got was playing 3 handed when I called a massive all in with 99 and beat AQ. When we started heads up play I had 600,000 chips to my opponents 300,000. After 10 or 15 hands I knew it would take a massive run of bad luck to lose against this guy. He was clearly nervous and I quickly ground him down to under 200K. On the final hand I reraised him all in with KJ suited, he called with A5 and I made a flush.

Like I said 1st place was little over $4,500!

At the same time I was also in a $55 tournament that started at 9:00 with 236 players. I made the final table of that one too. The first tournament wrapped up at about 12:30, but this one lasted until 2 am. I can't say I recall many of the details, but I know I finished 3rd which paid about $1,200.

All together it was about a $7,000 day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reflecting on the 2010 WSOP

I'm a big sports fan. With the odd exception of sports that involve goals (specifically hockey and soccer), I love it all. While most of my favorite players are big names, I certainly find myself rooting for the underdog more often than not.

In the past week two unknown players have had maybe their greatest moments on the big stage. In the U.S. open a Frenchman named Havret who was ranked 391st in the world had a chance to win on the last few holes. In the end a top 20 player came through (like they usually do) and won the tournament.

In tennis 148th ranked Nicholas Mahut was part of the longest tennis match in professional history, lasting more than 11 hours over the span of three days (the match was stopped because of darkness twice!). It was just a second round match in a tournament with 128 players and Mahut was unable to outlast his opponent. But he was still part of the biggest story at Wimbledon this year and part of a match that will be remembered for years to come.

How do you think those guys feel right now? They can't feel bad. But I'm sure playing a practice round to get ready for the next cookie cutter golf tournament or hitting backhands to gear up for some second rate tennis event is not enough the get the juices flowing for these guys.

That's a little bit how I feel right now. I got relatively close to something special at this years WSOP. I was a long way from winning an event, but making day 2 three times I wasn't that far from making a final table which in and of itself is a big deal.

More to the point it was 9 days where I was part of something big and the chance of something big happening was right there, just out of my grasp. It was exhausting, but exhilarating.

When the time came to head home, I was more than ready. I missed my family desperately and my day to day life is great on just about every level. But it's not so easy to step out of the bright lights and just snap back into the normal routine.

I'm sure that Havret and Mahut are already thinking about next year (or the next major). And however hard I try, I can't help but do the same.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

WSOP Main Event Satellites

I'm in a $370 Satellite on Pokerstars and a $530 Satellite on AP. They're both about an hour into the action and I'm off to a good start in both. Check twitter (dave_huff) for live updates. Or if you want to watch I'm acesedai on Pokerstars and acessedai on Absolute.

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 WSOP Final Thoughts

I ended up making a small profit of about $800 in the 2010 WSOP, but that was more than eaten up by the expense of 10 days in Vegas.

Even still this year was a success. I played better than I ever have at the WSOP and I made it to day 2 in three of the four tournaments I entered. While it would have been great to catch one or two more breaks and go a little (or a lot) deeper I'll have nothing but good memories of the tournaments I played.

I think I also got a small confidence boost from how well I played against the strongest competition. I got the best of a few world class players and instead of thinking I have what it takes to make a final table or win an event, I know I have what it takes.

I now have 6 WSOP cashes on my resume and I'm already looking forward to next year.

In the mean time I'm going to take a few shots to qualify for the main event. I'll be playing a $700 and a $370 qualifier on pokerstars and a $530 on Absolute over the weekend. If I can catch a few breaks my 2010 WSOP might not be over just yet!

WSOP $1,500 HORSE Day 2 Recap

As per usual, I find myself a little blogged out at the end of a series of tournament that required tons of blogging. As a result I'm going to make this quick.

I got off to a terrible start on Day 2, despite being at a great table. I had 19,000 when I looked at my first hand of the day and at the end of that hand I had about 14,000. Not what I was hoping for!

It was all down hill from there. I won a few small pots here and there, but after close to two hours I was down to 5,000 chips playing Omaha with 400/800 blinds. On my final hand I found myself all in on the turn. Another player was also all in and when the two of us and a third player turned up our cards I saw that if I could hit a heart (any heart - amazingly there was no low draw and neither of my opponents had a full house draw that would be completed by a heart) I would scoop the entire 20,000 chip pot. A black river card put an end to my tournament.

I finished about 170th of 827.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WSOP $1,500 HORSE Day 1 Recap

We started this $1,500 HORSE tournament with 824 players each with 4,500 chips. This is a ton of players for a HORSE tournament!

Looking around many of the top pros were mixed into the field, but there were also a slew of older players who tend to be much weaker than the players in their 20's and 30's. Why is that? We'll when you're 22 and you have no one but yourself to take care of, you have roommates, and can live on the cheap it's easy to get into playing poker for a living (like I did). But when you're 55 and you have kids in college, a house and a car payment, it's always just going to be a hobby.

Of course there are plenty of online no limit hotshots who don't know shit about playing HORSE who are even better to play against, but also a little more volatile.

I got off to very slow start in this one. I was between 2,500 and 3,500 chips for pretty much the first 4 hours of play. I won a few split pots during that time, but no big pots or even significant pots at all.

After the dinner break we started level 5 and during levels 5 and 6 I made up for the first 4. By the even of level 6 I was up to 12,000. A few minutes into level 7 I was up to 16,000. Average at that point was about 7k or 8k so I was really liking my chances.

Then I went stone cold. I couldn't make anything and of course the stakes kept getting higher. The end of level 8 which would mark the end of day 1 was looming and I thought the worst thing would be to make it to day 2, but have almost no chips. My plan was to fly home Thursday afternoon and another day in Vegas would mean added expense and more time away from my family who I'm missing like crazy right now.

At the same time if I had 4,500 chips they were still worth $1,500 and even if I had 2,250 (an amount I could get all in before the flop) the were worth $750. That's not the kind of money you want to just throw away, but I was in go for it mode as we approached the end of day 1.

I found myself with 3,500 chips playing hold'em (the H of the HORSE) with the blinds at 300/500 (stakes of 500/1,000) and I picked up 22 in middle position. Normally I would fold here, but I knew at most we'd be looking at 5 or 6 more hands before the end of the day.

So I raised, got reraised, the big blind came along and I made it 4 bets. Now 2,000 of my 3,500 was in the pot and I was committed. I prayed for a deuce on the flop and instead got J 8 5. I bet anyway and both opponents called. The turn was a 9 and I went all in for my last 1,000 getting one call. I was against AT who shockingly missed all of his 14 outs.

This old timer in seat 1 gave me a little smile and I said "The worst thing is to make it to day 2 with no chips."

Two hands later he raised and I looked down at JJ. I three bet it and he four bet it it. I thought he had a real hand, but I knew he was also thinking about those deuces. Amazingly the flop came down jack high! BOOM! Now I was really hoping he had something. He bet the flop, I raised him, and he three bet me. Ah ha! I'm going to punish this guy!

The turn was a queen, he bet, I raised, he reraised, and I raised again. The river was a brick and he bet out into me! I put in my last 1,600 and he called. He rolled over AA like he thought he was getting that pot, but when I showed him my JJ he knew that he'd over played it.

There were 19,000 chips in that pot and two hands later I bagged them up. They'll be there waiting for me at the Rio at 3. Right now I'm in 79th of 280. 80 spots pay.

After three day 2's let's hope I can make my first day 3!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WSOP $2,500 6-max recap

I finally found myself with some time to kill, so after much delay here is the recap of Event #26!

As I mentioned briefly before, I got off to an INSANE start in this tournament. I've never picked up so many chips so quickly at the WSOP despite the fact that just about every player at our table for the whole day was a pro of some kind.

1,254 players entered this one and we started with 7,500 chips each. For me the first two hours were about chopping out small pots. I made a few check raise bluffs, won the blinds plenty of times, and picked up some chips with standard continuation bets. I was at 11,000 after two hours.

Then I got involved in one of three huge pots that I'd play against Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet. Jon has won a couple million dollars in online tournaments and wrote a book with John "pearljammer" Turner. I've played against him many time online and he's a very strong player. He also seemed like a good dude from the little interaction we had.

In the first hand blinds were 75/150 and apestyles raised to 400 in the cutoff. He'd been very active this level, always making it 400 to go. I looked down at KT suited (a hand I would have folded against someone playing fewer hands) and raised to 1,200. Apestyes just called which turned out to be a big mistake for him!

The flop came down T T 3 giving me trips! Now I just had to hope he had something. I bet 2,000 into the 2,600 chip pot and got called. The turn was a queen, I bet 2,500, and again I got called. The river was a blank and I looked over at my opponent's stack. A quick glance told me he had 5K-6K chips. I thought if I put him all in he might fold, but if I bet a little less I'd get paid off since I was pretty sure he had something at this point. In the end I settled on 3,500 and I got a call with body language that said "I think, I'm beat, but I can't fold this hand." Later unprovoked when he was listing some other complaints it came out that he had AA on this hand!

Then I went on a busting streak. KT flopped a ten vs my QQ and was out the door. AK missed against my 88. And then AK hit for me against 88! HA!

Just before dinner I got involved in another big one where I put the screws to Apestyles. Although I had him down to about 2,000 chips after I cracked his AA, he built it back up to about 11,000 just so I could take some more from him!

The blinds were 200/400 with a 25 chip ante and he raised to 900 which seemed to be a standard raise at our table for some reason. I looked down at A7s and reraised him to 2,500. This is not normally a play I'd make, but I had a tight image and three times as many chips as he had so I figured I'd push him around. Well he had a strong hand again and this time he reraised me to 4,500. I would have folded to anything over 5,000, but I was getting 4 to 1 on my money, in position so even though I was sure to be dominated I decided to see the flop.

The flop came down queen high and to my shock Apestyles checked. What? He had less than a pot sized bet left and to me this meant that he had a rock solid hand (QQ, KK or AA) and was trying to get me to take a shot at the pot. But I wasn't biting. I checked behind him and the turn was an ace. Now this was getting interesting!

I could tell from his very subtle, but visible reaction that he didn't like the ace and he checked again. Or there was some chance he had AA and just made top set. At this point I figured him for KK. Given that, there was no reason for me to bet. If he has KK he folds, and if he has a monster hand I'm cooked so why bet?

The river was a brick and he checked again. Now I thought "how much is the most that I can bet that he'll call me with KK?" I decided on 3,000 and sure enough he called me and he did in fact have KK! Again I had him on the ropes, but he'd be up to 30,000 chips by our next confrontation! Dammit Apestyles why can't I kill you!

At the dinner break (after 6 levels) I had 45,000 which was six times what we started with. After level 8 I had 67,000! It was so much fun! I was blowing people to pieces and I was sure to be in the top 10 if not the top two or three chip stacks in the entire tournament.

Then I had two major miscues. On the first Apestyles got his revenge. The blinds were 300/600 and he raised to 1,400. I had AK and made it 3,500 to go. I'd actually been reraising him a lot all day and getting away with it. A few hands earlier I'd made the exact same play with 99 and won the pot on the flop. So when he made it 8,000 I thought there was some chance he was just getting fed up with me reraising him left and right. I had AK so I figured I'd put him to the test. I moved all in and he called me in a microsecond and rolled over AA! ACK! I was about 7% to win and I didn't. I lost 30,000 chips on that pot!

To make matters worse I lost another 20,000 with AQ to another guy who had AA a little while later! Bastards!

Now I was feeling like I'd totally blown it. After having 70,000 chips at my peak I was down to less than 20,000 with less than an average stack.

Sometime later 2006 WSOP player of the year Jeff Madsen got moved to our table, directly to my left. Jeff is a very aggressive player and I knew he'd be big trouble if he got some chips. The good news was he only had about 10,000. The better news is shortly after we started level 9 I took him out. I raised with AK suited, he moved all in with QQ and I flopped an ace. Bye Jeff!

I was hoping to get someone soft to fill that seat since the rest of my table was a bunch of ball busters. Instead I got Shaun Deeb who either wins or finishes in the top 3 on the yearly pokerstars tournament leader board every year. Can you imagine how hard that is? It's not like he got hot for a week and won the weekly tournament leaderboard on some bullshit site. He's had great results year after year on pokerstars. Well I busted his ass too.

In that hand the blinds were 400/800 and I raised to 2,500 with AQ from the small blind. He thought for about 2 seconds and moved all in for 28,000 from the big blind. I knew that couldn't be a strong hand so I called for about 28,000. He rolled over 55 which meant he was ahead. The flop came down K T 4 with two spades (I had the Q of spades). The turn was another spade. I saw the river was a 2 and I was like "fuck, I'm out! Oh shit it's a spade! It's a spade! I'm the king of the world! Suck it Deeb!" We counted down our stacks and I had him covered by 100! Ha!

I finished day 1 with 46,400 chips. 154 players made it through the day and 126 spots paid. I was in 90th place going into day 2 and my plan was to play tight until we made the money and then go for it.

As you may have seen in my Day 2 preview I got a great table draw. My table for day two had one player with about 50K and everyone else between 20K and 30K. When I got to the table it was better than I hoped. It seemed like only one of these guys was a strong player. But 15 minutes in, just when I was getting pumped about my chances of smashing these jokers, they broke our table.

My new table was much tougher and I saw Apestyles sitting in seat 6 with over 100,000 chips! Why aren't you dead Apestyles?

Despite my plan to play conservatively I couldn't help but be aggressive. And it didn't work out. The blinds were 600/1,200 and the under the gun player raised to 3,000. I was in the big blind with 44 and I called. The flop came down 9 9 3 which meant if my opponent didn't have a pocket pair or a 9 I was ahead. I checked, he bet, and I decided to put him to the test. When the hand started he had 28,000 and I had 50,000. We were 10 players away from the money and while I was hoping he didn't have anything, I thought there was some chance he might fold a strong hand given the circumstances. Sadly he called me with TT and I was down to 22,000.

Right after that I was moved to an even tougher table where everyone but one guy had over 100,000 chips!

Happily I was still able to cruise into the money. Actually it took quite a while, but not too many hands. When we got down to 128 players they started hand for hand play. The way that works is every table plays one hand and then the dealer stands up so the people in charge can see that the table is done with the hand. Once one hand has completed at every table they deal another one. And so on until we make the money. The do this to prevent people from stalling. With 22 tables it took at least 5 minutes for every hand and it took over an hour to go from 128 players to 126.

The very first hand after we made the money I picked up KK for the first time in the tournament! A player with 66 raised, I reraised and he put me all in. That had took me up to about 37,000.

The blinds were 800/1,600 at this point so I had plenty of chips to work with, but then one of those situations where there's nothing to do but go broke came up. I got dealt AKs, raised, got reraised by the big blind, went all in and he had JJ. I couldn't win this race and I was out.

I finished 98th which paid $5,211. A strong finish which gives me two cashes in three tournaments at the 2010 WSOP. Not to shabby!

When I went to get paid out, there was Apestyles at the cage getting his money too. I guess someone had finally taken him out. Nice playing with you Apestyles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 1 update delay.

I'm going to rest before my tournament instead of rushing to put up a post. I'll get to it later today or tomorrow. It was interesting so hopefully it will be worth the wait.

WSOP Event #26 ($2,500 6-max NL) Day 2 Preview

I ended day 1 playing on a total ball buster table, with 5 opponents who all play poker for a living (one big name - 2007 WSOP main event champ Jerry Yang - and 4 online pros). At the end of day 1 we all put our chips into tamper proof plastic bags and they magically appear at a new table with new opponents the next day.

I was able to find my table redraw online and here is what it looks like:

Seat 1: Mitchell Kelly - 23500
Seat 2: Petr Bartagov - 49900
Seat 3: Shawn Hattem - 28900
Seat 4: Wesley Huff - 46400
Seat 5: Samuel Ngai - 22600
Seat 6: Erich Kollmann - 29800

I don't know any of these guys which is good. More importantly 4 of them have significantly fewer chips than I do and everyone has a below average stack. That means I'll be the one who is able to apply the pressure as we approach the money bubble.

Right now we have 156 players left and 126 spots pay. I'm in about 90th and given my table I have a great chance to make the money. You can check out all the chip counts here.

You can check out all the prizes here.

The highlights are: 126th pays $4,782, I need to make it to the top 36 to net $10,000, 6th is $77,000 and 1st is an insane $630,000!!! I have at least a 1 in 150 chance of winning outright.

Look at twitter for updates and pokernews.com for general tournament coverage.

WSOP Event #26 Day 1 Recap (Under Construction)

WSOP event #26 was $2,500 No limit 6 handed. I had a crazy day 1 and I'll have a recap up by 2 (hopefully).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WSOP Schedule Update

After yesterday's tournament and three days of play I felt like I needed a break so I opted to skip the $1,000 NL event that started today at noon. The noon start time and the fact that this is the blandest of events, made it an easier decision to skip it. Instead I plan to take this $1,000 and use it to try to qualify for the Main event once I get back to California (backers, you'll be in for the attempt - more details coming later).

My friends Jake and Chrissy are in town for the weekend and my wife Jen is arriving this afternoon. We're going to do the $155 a person chefs tasting menu at Latalier at the MGM tonight followed by some heavy drinking and negative EV gambling. Then tomorrow night Jen and I are going to see the Elvis Cirque du Soliel at Aria.

Poker is on hold until Monday (I'm already registered for $2,500 6 handed no limit), but I'm sure this is going to be a fun weekend.

WSOP Event #23 Recap

I went into event #23 $2,500 limit 6 handed feeling good about my chances. But, if you read my tweets you know that this tournament was like my own personal hell.

I was playing my best game, against VERY weak competition, at the WSOP and I could not make ANYTHING! It was ridiculous!

I had 5 opponents. Seat 1 was played with seeming randomness before the flop, but was totally ABC after the flop.

Seat 2 kept limping before the flop with hands like J8 off suit or 56 suited and was generally clueless.

Seat 3 was solid, but nothing special.

Seat 4 had backed a buy who finished 2nd in a tournament a few days ago so he was playing this tournament even though he'd never played limit hold'em before. Some people say that and you know it's bullshit, but he said it ten times, and it was obvious that it was true based on his plays and the questions he was asking.

The guy in seat 6 was absolutely spewing chips. He was in half the hands, played them all like shit, and blamed every dealer for his bad luck. I swear to God that at one point he said to the dealer in all seriousness "the reason I lost that last hand was because you didn't pull the bets into the pot before you put out the river." I've heard all sorts of crazy superstitions, but that was a new one.

The fucking guy who had never played limit hold'em before was the second best of my opponents! AHHHHHHHH!!!! How did I not destroy these guys?

It boils down to this. In the first two hours we probably got dealt 80 hands. 70 of those hands were totally unplayable garbage. Of the other ten I won one pot with a bet on the flop, maybe 5 I took to showdown with a 2nd best hand of top pair or better, and 4 I folded post flop with total confidence that I was beaten.

There were two hands that maybe I could have folded on the turn, but they were both top pair aces and I lost to better kickers both times. Other than that I feel like I lost the minimum on every hand.

On the last hand before the first break I was down to 425 chips from 7,500 that we started with. I got AK, flopped top two, there was 4 way action and I quadrupled up. That was about the only thing that well in this tournament.

After the break I got it back up to 2,500, before getting blinded back down to 1,300or so. On the final hand I raised with K9 of spades, the spewmaster called me, and seat 1 reraised me. The flop came J 7 2 with two spades. I check raised the flop which unloaded seat 6, but seat 1 called. The turn was a 7, I bet and got raised all in. The river was a jack and my opponent showed me J5. Jack five? You three bet two players with J5? What - the - fuck? How did I not destroy these guys?

Now that this post is done this tournament is behind me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WSOP Event #23 Preview

Today at 5 I have $2,500 6 handed limit hold'em. This is my specialty. Coming off a cash in another limit hold'em event I feel great about my chances.

I played this event last year and we got something like 500 or 600 players. But last year there was a $2,500 no limit event at noon which drew off a lot of the players. This year the noon event is the $1,000 buy in ladies only event so I'd expect more players. I'd also expect more players who don't normally play limit who are here for a few weeks like me and want to play something today.

We'll be playing 8 levels today so I'll be looking at a 2:45 am finish if I make it to day 2. In fact if I make it to midnight I'm very likely to skip tomorrows $1,000 no limit at noon which would have me off until Monday.

When I went to sign up I peaked in on the ladies event. It was very surreal. Normally the fields in these tournaments are 90%-95% men. I played against 30 or 40 players in the limit event and two of them were women. So seeing a huge room filled with 1,000 women and no men playing poker was odd to say the least. For some reason it seemed a much more positive and light hearted environment.

WSOP Event #18 Day 2 Recap

We started with 109 players needing to get to 45 to make the money. I was in 79th place chip wise to start the day, knowing I'd need to win a few pots early to survive.

But my only plan was to play my best and take it one hand at a time. With that said it's really difficult NOT to plan. I had 13 hours between day 1 and day 2 and you can bet that the majority of my thoughts during that span were about what was going to happen on Day 2. But there's no reason to go into it thinking I'm going to do this and I'm not going to do that. Even saying I want to have X chips by the next break is dangerous. You have to let the situation dictate your actions and if you follow a plan you came up in a vacuum you're doomed to make mistakes.

Everyone redrew for seats at the end of day 1 and happily I went from a miserable table where everyone could play and had a ton of chips to a table with a few soft spots. If fact once again the two worst players at the table were sitting on my left and my right.

Even better I got off to a great start. We were playing 1,000/2,000 stakes so every pot I won added to my stack significantly. I stole the blinds a few times. I won a pot or two with a continuation bet on the flop. I finally got pocket aces for the first time in the tournament and won a fair sized pot that was three bets preflop, one bet on the flop and no call on the turn. I won with JJ at showdown.

By the time the stakes went up to 1,200/2,400 I was up to 37,000 in chips! It was about the best possible day 2 start that I could imagine.

Then I didn't win a pot for the next hour and to make matters worse I played one hand very poorly. I raised in the cutoff with T9 suited and got called by the fishy player on the button. The flop was K 9 2, I bet and got raised.

The only thing he could have here is a king (or AA maybe). There were no draws, KQ, KJ, and QJ were what I figured to be his most likely holdings given the preflop action, and I knew he didn't have a pocket pair since he 3 bet me a little earlier with 66 (that was the hand with JJ).

I called the flop which is defensible, but I also called the turn and the river which is nothing short of foolish. He rolled over KQ suited and took down the pot. This was the worst hand I played in the entire tournament.

By the time we made it to the first break of day 2 (2 hours in) I had 21,000. More than I started with but much less than I had before.

While all this was going on players were blowing themselves up all over the place and we were down to 69 players as we started level 13 which was 1,500/3,000.

My 21,000 chips were equivalent to having $210 in a $15/$30 game, an amount that could go in on one pot. Even worse I went cold for almost an hour folding 100% of my hands preflop.

At the very end of level 13 I was down to about 9,000 chips when a big hand came up. Pokernews.com actually reported this hand in their tournament coverage, but they were not even close to what actually happened. Here is what they said:

When we arrived at the table the board was reading 3h Qh Kd 3d 5d and Donev was holding pocket tens. Wesley Huff tabled pocket queens and doubled up through Donev.

Huff is now up to 21,000 chips and Donev slipped to 50,000.

OK. About the only thing they got right here is the players involved and the chip counts at the end of the hand (some of the cards are similar I guess).

What really happened is I had KT of spades and I raised to 3,000. Donev in the small blind reraised to 4,500 with QQ (with the Q of clubs). The flop came down K T 3 with two clubs (notice it was all red cards in the pokernews version) which of course was a monster flop for me. The first card I saw was the king and given that I had half my stack in the pot already it was a welcome sight.

On the flop Donev checked which I thought meant he had a big hand, but I put him on AA or AK and no matter what he had I was getting it all in with this hand. I bet and he just called. The turn was the A of clubs which was the worst card in the deck (not knowing what he had). Donev checked again and I put in my last 3,200.

Before he turned over his hand he said "I just have a draw." This was good because it gave me a chance to say "good, I hope you miss it!" This little micro conversation kept me from thinking about the fact that a club, a jack or a queen (14 cards out of 44) would put an end to my tournament. It was about 2 seconds from the time I saw his hand to the time the river card was on the table. I hadn't processed what he needed to beat me yet, but I knew a ten made me a full house and I was still alive.

KT beating QQ on a A K T T 3 board is a little different from QQ beating TT on a K Q 5 3 3 board. Boo pokernews!

That pot kept my head above water for a while, but soon the blinds sucked the life out of me. I got absolute garbage after that hand. Nothing even close until I was down to 7,000. At that point we had 50 players left. 5 spots out of the money and the blinds were taking 3,000 chips out of my stack every round. It did not look good.

Finally I got QJ suited which was the best hand I'd seen for almost an hour! The under the gun player raised, but I still thought I had to go for it. I three bet making it 6,000, he put me all in and I was pumped to see him turn over TT. I expected to be behind 60/40 or maybe even worse, but instead I was 50/50. Even better I flopped a queen and my hand held up.

Maybe 5 minutes later we went on a 60 minute dinner break with 47 players left. I had 18,000 and looking around at the other stacks there were two players with about 6,000 (the blinds would be 1,500/3,000 when we came back) and 4 others with between 8,000 and 15,000. So my chances were very, very good of making the money. But it's not like I was going back to the table and folding AA or KK so if I made a big hand and lost I could still come up short.

I had an hour to let my mind spin all the scenarios. Every time I thought about missing the money I made sure I thought about winning the tournament outright. Looking back I think I had a much better chance of making the final table than of going broke short of the money.

Two hands after we came back my resolve got put to the test. The under the gun player who might have been the tournament chip leader raised. This guy was very aggressive and I was 100% sure if I'd get more action than I wanted. I looked down at QQ...

Jesus. Can I really fold QQ here? I knew calling was not an option. If I reraised it would be to 9,000. Then if I bet the flop that's another 3,000. And since I was all but sure I'd get check raised I'm looking at getting it all in by the flop or the turn.

Did I really want to get it all in with QQ two spots from a $4,000 payout? No I didn't. This was the first time in over 2,000,000 hands of limit poker that I folded QQ before the flop.

After I folded another mega stack in the small blind three bet it and the flop came down ace high. There was a bet and a raise on the flop so I'm confident I didn't fold a winner.

5 minutes later we were in the money! Whoo! 2 hands after that I was out. Boo!

I got dealt Q9s in the small blind and I raised. The big blind called and the flop came down A K 9. Not great, but at least I had a pair. I had to bet and I got called. The turn was a brick, but I bet my last 6,000. My opponent thought for 20 seconds and called with K8. No help on the river and that was it.

I finished in 45th place which paid $4,097. Also I missed the Stud event so I have $5,597 more in my fat roll of hundreds than I could have at this point in my trip.

A very good start and a good boost for the confidence.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

WSOP Event #18 Day 2 Preview

To start here is a list of the payouts if you want to check them out. Also here is a list of the chip counts going into day 2.

We get underway at 2:30 with 109 players left. I'm in 79th place. When we go back we'll have 10 more minutes of playing 800/1,600 stakes (400/800 blinds) before we go to 1,000/2000.

The average stack is 26,200 which means if I can win one good pot I'll be there. It's also very heartening to see that the chip leader only has 87,000 and I only need to get to 55,000 to be in the top 5.

Today the plan is to play 8 levels or down to the final table. I'd guess that it will be 8 levels and the top 20 or so will come back tomorrow.

The $1,500 7-card stud event goes off at 5 and I can register as late as 7:15 so if I don't make it in the limit, I'll likely play that tournament as planned.

But fuck that. Anything can happen. I'm only 108 players away from winning the title and $200,000.

WSOP Event #18 Day 1 - The Long Version

We started Event #18 with 476 players each with 6,000 chips. I got a great table draw. 15 minutes in I felt like I had everyone figured out to some extent. Happily the two best players were across the table and the two worst were directly to my left and my right (you tend to be involved in more hands with people sitting close to you).

My toughest opponent was a guy who I played at a final table in a $2,000 buy in no limit tournament in L.A. last year (only 60 entrants in that one - I finished 4th). I have never seen anyone at the poker table look more calm, and quiet. The only way you know he's not dead is periodically his chips end up in the pot. I kept rooting for something terrible to happen to him, but that guy is good and he's still in it. Also of note, he opened up his laptop and got in a few hands of online poker while we were on a 20 minute break! Some people just can't get enough poker!

The biggest thing that happened in the first few hours was the soft spot to my left went broke and got replaced with 23 year old poker freak of nature Tom "Durrrr" Dwan. Don't let his stupid nick name (it's actually his online poker screen name) fool you. This guy is as good as they get.

Let me tell you how good this guy is. He posted an open challenge to anyone in the world to play him 50,000 hand of online, heads up (one on one), $200/$400 blinds no limit hold'em or pot limit Omaha. If he came out ahead (even $1) his opponent would owe him $500,000 (plus he would keep any money he won playing). But if his opponent beat him (again even by just a dollar) he'd pay out $1,500,000!!

There are a few people who are interested and so far only one player has given him action. At last check which was 33,000 hands into the match Patrick Antonius (one of the worlds best cash game players) was losing $1,900,000 to Dwan.

Another thing I'd heard about Tom is that he has major side bets (like all the top pros do) for this world series. I'd heard a few different things, but word on the street is that he bet $2,500,000 to win $8,000,000 that he'd win at least one of the 57 WSOP events this year. He got incredibly close finishing 2nd of 2,500+ players in a $1,500 no limit event a few days ago.

So this is the fucking guy I have dead to my left (which means he's acting after me - a big deal - every hand except when I'm the button). After a little while I asked him about the side bets since I'd heard different amounts. Let me just pause here to say how cool is that? The guys picture is all over the place here, he's on the cover of poker magazines left and right, everyone is speculating about this stuff and I get to sit next to him and just ask him what's going on in between hands!

What he told me was it would be his "biggest win ever" meaning middle seven figures. But it turns out that on top of his bet to win an event this year, he has some other two and three year bets as well as money won bets and head to head who has a better series bets with several other top pros.

Which brings me to the story of a ridiculous hand that I played against him. We were playing 200/400 stakes, I had about 7,000 chips and we'd just come back from our second break (it was 4:45). Tom had mentioned that he had to play the $10,000 2-7 lowball event which started at 5. That event was likely to only draw about 100 players which would give him a great chance to win even though that's not his game. It's just easier to get through 100 people than the 1,000+ you get in most of the events. When you have millions on the line for victory you need to give yourself every chance. The buy ins are nothing and even the prize money is not much compared to the side bets.

So he started raising every hand without even looking at his cards! Remember we're playing limit poker here so you can just move all in; you can only raise a specific amount. He said his goal was to take his stack of about 4,000 chips up to 8,000 or go broke. The thing is that he can go off and play that other tournament, but his chips stay on the table and his blinds get taken as if he were folding 100% of the hands. He thought if he had 8,000 or so that was enough that his chips would last a few hours and he might be able to make it back to them on breaks of the other tournament (or if he went broke in the 2-7 tournament of course he'd come back to them).

Amazingly he was having trouble getting action from the players at our table. After a few hands I picked up T9 suited. While I'd greatly prefer a hand with some showdown value like an ace or a pair, I figured it was worth it to take a risk here. I raised knowing 100% that I was going to get three bet by a player who hadn't seen his cards and I would probably end up heads up against him with a slightly above average hand.

So I made it 400, Tom made it 600, the small blind called and so did I. The flop came down T 3 3, the small blind checked, I checked, and still not having seen his cards Tom bet 200. The small blind made it 400 and I made it 600 with my top pair. At this point Tom looked and called. I figured he'd call with as little as one over card here.

The turn was a 9 which was a great card because now I could beat any other player with a ten (unless it was TT or T3). The small blind checked, I bet 400, Tom went all in for 525 and after lots of hemming and hawing the small blind folded 77 face up.

The river was a 7! The small blind went semi crazy and I thought "wow I dodged a bullet there!" So I rolled over my two pair ready to take down the 5k chip pot. WRONG! Very quietly Tom rolls over 23 off suit and wins with trips! Curse you Tom Dwan! I hope you lose all your side bets you bastard!

I'm just kidding. My impression of Tom was nothing but favorable. He seemed like a nice guy and I wish him the best. But it's not every fucking day that someone three bets you dark with 23 off, and flops trips in a $2,000 tournament!

A few hands later Tom went down the tubes, strolled off to play his $10,000 tournament and things went back to normal.

About that time I got dealt KQ and came in for a raise. I got three bet by a solid player and I just called. The flop came down K J 8 and I check called the flop with the plan to check raise the turn. When it came out it was a 9 and like clock work I check raised. But them my opponent reraised me! Yikes! All of a sudden I did not like my hand, but I figured a T or maybe a K or Q would make me a winner. When the river came out - BING! - it was a ten making me a straight. I check raised my opponent again and took down a huge pot. If I miss the river I have less than 1,000 chips left.

But I took that money and ran with it.

In level 8 we were playing 500/1000 and my biggest hand of the day came up. I had stormed up to 17,000 chips and I got dealt KT of hearts on the button. I raised, the small blind reraised, the big blind made it 4 bets and we both called. The flop came down Q T 5 with one heart. The small blind checked, the big blind bet, I called, now the small blind raised and the big blind reraised! ACK!

I knew I was beat, but there was a 9,000 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,000 to see the turn card. I figured my opponents for hands like AQ or AA or even AK with flush draw. I thought for 30 seconds and decided since I had a backdoor flush draw to go with my pair it was worth it to see the turn. It was a total brick - a six. SHIT! Now what?

The big blind bet the turn and now I'm getting 12.5 to 1 on my money (assuming the small blind also calls, which I was sure he'd do) when I'm about 8 to 1 to make two pair or trips. The problem is if I'm against a set I'm drawing dead.

In the end I went for it and I hit a ten on the river! Slot machine noises instantly went off in my head. I got one call on the river and was up to 27,000 as we went on break after level 8.

From there I took it all the way up to 33,000 when average was less than 20,000. Those 33,000 chips had a value of $11,000 real dollars. But the last hour really sucked! Unlike the first 9 levels I was faced with a handful of tough decisions and I missed the flop over and over when I had a hand to play.

I ended the day with 16,300. You can check out my Day 2 Preview which will be up shortly for what comes next.

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...