Friday, November 13, 2015

Three Bluffs From My Last Session

I have been on my worst run of the year over the past month. Sometime when your results are way below average it's a matter of taking a lot of bad beats or just all around shitty play. I haven't been taking a lot of bad beats and I actually feel like I've been playing pretty well. What it feels like to me is I've just been getting a wave of frozen cards. I'm getting premium starting hands or favorable flops, turns and rivers way below expectation.

Either that or I have selective memory and I have just been running hot for the other 9 months of the year. That is always a possibility.

Anyway, I took matters in to my own hands and ran a few bluffs during my last session, because after all if you're bluffing it don't matter what ya got!

On the first hand I raised to $20 with some hand that is irrelevant. I got 3 callers and the flop came down all hearts. I had no hearts and there wasn't much reason to try to steal it vs 3 opponents out of position on a monochrome board so I checked. It checked through and the turn was a 4th heart. It checked around to the button who bet out $35 into the $75 pot. The bettor is an aggressive player who likes to make plays at pots and I knew there was no way he would have checked the flop with a big heart and I didn't think he'd bet the turn for value with a small heart. A raise here would seem a little weird, but I figured even if it felt off that didn't mean he was going to put me to the big test. I popped it to $125 and he quickly folded. When the flop came down I was done with it, and even on the turn I thought if I bet out it wouldn't look credible since I'd be unlikely to check the flop with a big heart. But I saw an opportunity on the turn, jumped on it and it worked.

The next hand had some similar elements. I called a raise to $25 with 55 and we took the flop 4 way. The board came out K 8 8 with two hearts and a club and it checked around. The turn was a J of clubs putting two flush draws out there and it checked to the last player who fired out $60. This looked really fishy to me. I didn't think he'd check a K or an 8 on the flop since he was last to act. On the other hand he could easily be betting a J or a draw. I raised to $160 and he thought for about 45 seconds before folding. Turn check raises look really strong and come with the added power of your opponent expecting a bet on the river to surely follow when you have it. I had the added bonus here of some showdown value if my opponent, called the turn, missed his draw and it went check, check (not super likely, but worth something).

The third hand didn't go quite as smoothly. I called $25 on the button vs a cutoff raiser with 98 of hearts and we took the flop 5 way. The flop was A J 6 with two spades and one diamond. It checked to the preflop raiser who bet out $35 into a $120 pot. This looked weak as shit to me and I happened to know the bettor was a little intimidated by me. I took a glance down the table at the other three guys in the hand and they were all watching TV or looking at their phones. It was clear they were done with it. So I made it $135 to go, the others quickly folded and to my surprise the main villain thought for a moment and then called.

When he bet $35 I was thinking that he could easily have a weak ace or just be C-betting whatever. When he called, my brain kind of shut down. I was surprised that he called and I got wrapped up in thinking about how I didn't really like my options on the turn rather than trying to sort out what he had in his hand. The turn came out a 7 of diamonds. This was a great card for me as I went from absolute total air to having some equity with a straight draw. He was sitting on about $325 and there was about $400 in the pot so we had less than one post sized bet in play. At this point I was not really sure what to do. I think the right move would be to just sit there for 30 seconds and tried to figure it out.

If I had done that this is what I may have come up with. I have 3 options: check it back, go all in, bet some smaller amount. There are 4 types of hands he could have: big ace, weak ace, flush draw, A6/AJ (AJ is a maybe as that would probably just move in on the flop as would sets - this guy is not tricky at all). How is he going to like facing an all in with those hands? He's going to hate it. Maybe I get called by AK, AJ and A6, but everything else is out the window and even if I do get called I have 8 outs. Can he lay down a good hand? Yes. OK it's shove time!

Here's what I actually thought. "Man, I can't believe he called. That $35 looked really weak. What should I do here? AHHHH! I don't know! AHHHHHHHH! Check and pray? Yes! That's what I'll do, Check and pray!"

My prayers were not answered. A small diamond came out completing the back door flush draw and the villain checked again. I was back to the same 3 options: check it back, go all in, bet some smaller amount. I fired out $200 immediately. If you have absolutely no hope of winning at showdown and your opponent could have also been on a draw, I think it makes sense to put something out there. What I really didn't want to happen was to check it back and lose to a hand like KQ or KT of spades or Jx or something like that. $200 may have been overkill for that scenario. I think something like $100-$125 or going all the way all in are better options in hindsight.

What I was hoping to do was make it look like I'd checked back a good ace on the flop for pot control or to avoid getting stacked against a set, but now after two checks from my opponent I was sure that I was good and betting for value. My opponent was also maybe the type of guy who could worry about me having diamonds even though that made no sense whatsoever with the action. Sadly my story was not bought and I got quickly called by A9 of spades.

There are some guys who would never in a million years fold for a close to pot sized bet on the turn with a weak top pair and a flush draw and other guys who would lament folding it, but would fold it every time with that flop action and an all in on the turn. I think my opponent is more of the latter, and regardless, against all of his other likely hands I really like bombing the turn. Honestly I think if I'd been winning lately or even up a fair amount on the day that's what I would have done, but I talked my self out of it.

I'm hoping to play Friday and Saturday of this weekend to take advantage of those sweet sweet weekend games.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Day Should I Play and How Long Should I Stay?

I have continued to get drubbed at the tables lately. In the last month I've played 46 hours of $2/$3/$5 over 9 sessions and had 7 losers and only 2 winners. I've dropped $3,685 during that stretch. This undoubtedly sucks. Luckily if I zoom out a bit farther I'm actually $1,644 to the good over 74 hours since the end of Project 10K, but even with that in mind this is still a very disappointing run.

In my record keeping during my poker career I've often noted the date, but I just recently starting making a quick note of the day of the week. It turns out that since the end of Project 10K I've played 5 Fridays and 11 sessions on other days. I'm +$7,808 on Fridays and -$6,164 on the other days. This is a tiny sample size and I'm not going to jump to any conclusions, but holy shit! That is a major disparity!

Another thing I've been tracking is my results by the hour (i.e. how much I'm ahead or behind after every hour). Thus far the data is all of the place, but I'll be writing a future post about that once I can draw some conclusions.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Can I Make the Big Lay Down?

I've been all juiced up to play poker lately after watching a bunch of videos and making a few posts and comments on the forums at so I was excited to go play Wednesday night. I ended up sitting in maybe the worst $2/3/$5 game I've seen at the Oaks and I think if I wasn't so amped to play I might have left early.

I got involved in two tough spots against tough competition.

The villain in the first hand was late 20's slightly hipsterish looking white guy who I hadn't seen before. I didn't know what to make of him because on one hand he looked like he was super high and on the other he seemed like a really strong player. He did a lot of check raising and just by looking at his bet sizing in every spot where he showed a hand I felt like he was a strong player.

In the hand in question, I had A8 of clubs in the big blind and he open raised from earlyish position to $20. I was the lone caller and the flop came down Q 8 3 with two spades. This was a pretty good flop for me and given that I was in the blinds I expected him to bet close to 100% of his range on that board. I was all set to check and call, but he checked behind me.

The turn was a bingo card for me - another 8. It might be right to bet here, but I decided to go for a check raise. Either he checked back a big hand on the flop or had air and I think in either instance I make more with a check raise. I checked, he bet $25, I raised to $70 and he called. At this point I considered that he could have checked back QQ on the flop, but there were plenty of other hands he could have.

The river was the 4 of spades completing the front door flush draw. I decided that I thought there was no way that he'd check a flush draw last on the flop heads up vs the big blind so there was (almost) no way he could have a flush. I bet $100 hoping to get called by a hand like AA, KK, AQ, 98 or 87 or some hand trying to catch a bluff. Then he raised it to $300! GAH! I figured it had to be QQ. That was the only hand that would make any sense at all. Competing with that was the fact that this guy was either a very good player and thus capable of making a legit river bluff, or super high and just running good and thus capable of anything, or both. I called, got shown QQ and kicked myself a little for not folding.

The villain in the second hand was a mid 20's Asian guy who seemed sharp. He was limping a lot of pots and running a lot of bluffs on the turn and river. I know he was running a lot of bluffs because he showed a lot of them and got snapped off on a few as well.

Earlier in the night he bet $30 into $50 on a 6 4 3 flop and when I raised him to $75 he three bet to $210. I called and he check folded to an all in of $270 when an T came on the turn. He said he three bet the flop with air and that's about the only thing that make sense when you consider he check folded the turn rather than moving in when all I had left was half a pot sized bet.

When I say this guy was running a lot of bluffs I mean I've never seen anyone put in so many turn or river raises or $100+ bets as bluffs. But, he was also playing very in control and like I said he was sharp and not just a wild player.

To his right there was a woman who was a total novice. I mean, she didn't know how much the blinds were supposed to be and got mixed up a few times as to the denomination of the chips (there were only two colors - blue =$1, yellow =$5!). She absolutely had no clue.

On the hand in question, Mr. Bluffy limped for $5 and I raised to $25 with QJ of spades. Ms. No Clue called as did Mr. Bluffy. The flop came down Q 8 4 with two clubs, the both checked to me, I bet $50 and Ms. No Clue called. I was trying to sort out how much I could get her to call on the turn when Mr. Bluffy raised to $155.

We both had about $900 to start the hand and this is where a lot of players start to think "Well if I call another $105 here, I'm going to have to call $200 on the turn and $400 on the river and I don't want to basically go all in with one pair with a medium kicker, so I can't call here" and this is exactly why Mr. Bluffy has been bluffing so much and it had generally been working for him.

I decided that given how tricky he was I couldn't fold top pair here. I figured he'd expect me to bet any Q x x flop given the action, and could easily be taking a shot at the pot. So I called. The turn was a red 9 and he bet $250 into the $435 pot. At the time I was thinking that it was a bigger bet, more like 3/4 of the pot, but I guess it was a little less. Still a serious bet though.

I was pretty close to folding here, but four things stopped me: 1) there was a flush draw on the flop so he could be semi-bluffing with that 2) I picked up a gut shot which wasn't much but was something 3) he had run so many naked bluffs that I just couldn't give him full credit for a hand 4) I didn't have to commit the rest of my stack to calling him down - I could see the river and see what he did and then use that information to decide.

I called and the river came out a Q which although it greatly improved my hand, I didn't really think it changed anything. Either I was good with one pair of Q's because he was on a flush draw or total air or he flopped a set, and now had a full house. I didn't think there was much in between. Sometime around the time I was calling the turn bet or as the river came out I was thinking that I would not call an all in for the last $500 or so on the river. But then the Q came, sure enough he went all in for $500 (I actually had $470 left)  and I thought "That doesn't change anything. Either he flopped a set and I've been totally fucked this whole hand or I was good all the way. I should stick with my plan to fold to an all in. Fuck that, I can't fold trips to this guy." I called, he showed me pocket 8's, I did a quick check to make sure he had me covered and I headed for the door.

I ended up losing $665 on the night which is a pretty moderate loss, but I was really kicking myself on the drive home. One of the huge things that separates the 1 in 10,000 top notch players from the 1 in 1,000 and the 1 in 100 very, very good players is the ability to make big lay downs. That has never been one of my key strengths and lately more than anytime in the past 6 or 7 years, I've been walking around dreaming about playing in big games for big money. So I felt discouraged that two of the better players in the game got the best of me on two big hands. I felt like I'm doomed to be a very good, but not great player.

After sleeping on it I felt better about it.

Looking back on the first hand I think there may have been enough uncertainty. And what really were my alternatives? Checking the river would be total paranoia. Once I bet and get raised I have to be up against a full house, an ace or maybe king high flush or a bluff. Against an average player this is an easy fold as they'd never raise the river without the mortal nuts, but against a strong player getting 3 to 1 on my money I think it's an OK call.

Looking back on the second hand, there is something to be said about not being afraid to get it in. I have no doubt that Mr. Bluffy is capable of a three street bluff. That's totally in his range. The fact that a river is a Q actually increases the chances that he'd bluff one more street as it's a scary card if I don't have one.

But seriously, fuck these Q 8 x flops!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Fixing My Leaks

Every poker player has leaks. Leaks are plays you make that are not major errors, but are small mistakes that leak the profits out of your metaphorical money bucket. The more leaks you can fix the better your results will be.

Here are a few leaks I have:

- I don't pay close enough attention when I am not in a hand
- I don't closely examine my opponents for physical tells
- I don't focus hard enough on not giving off any physical tells
- I act too quickly sometimes
- I sometimes make calls with draws when the pot odds are not there
- I play too many suited connectors and suited gappers in early position (the combo of this one and they previous one is a actually a pretty big problem).
- After I've called $5 pre-flop I'm too willing to call a substantial raise with a hand that doesn't justify it

- I chicken out on some bluffs
- I don't three bet enough pre-flop
- I slow play the turn too often with huge hands hoping to induce bluff or otherwise encourage bets
- I give my opponents too much credit

The main ways I work on fixing my leaks are:

- Doing analysis away from the table (this is one of my major strengths)
- Talking over key hands with other skilled players
- Reading poker books and articles

Recently I've added a new tool - I've joined a subscription poker training website It's $30 a month which feels like a lot for a bunch of web videos and articles (i.e. the kind of stuff we're all used to being free with ads), but I'd read a few dozen articles by the owner/main guy (Bart Hanson) and they're all filled with solid advice.

Equally important is that just about the entire content catalog is geared towards in person no limit cash games and Bart's main experience comes from games in the $3/$5, $5/$10 or $10/$20 games in Southern California which are very similar to the games I'm playing. Many of the training sites are focused on how to beat online 6-max no limit games where the players are much, much tougher across the board or tournaments which doesn't really appeal to me at this point.

I had one pot that I won Friday that I would not have if not for watching the few videos I have thus far. I had AT suited and called a raise to $20 in the cutoff that came from a player just to my right. The big blind called as did the one limper. The flop came down K 8 3 with three different suits and the preflop raiser bet $30. With two players left to act and having missed the flop completely this could easily be a simple muck.

But one of the videos I'd watched touched on how K X X dry boards hit late position preflop raisers range way less often than A X X board because most players are folding anything worst than KT or K9s, but will play any Ax in late or middle late position. This is actually a pretty simple thing. You can explain it in one sentence to anyone who is not a novice. But I don't think it's something that I've explicitly thought through before. I have not been on the lookout for K high dry boards. But in this instance I did have it top of mind. I raised to $75, both other players folded and when it got back to the raiser he thought for a moment and mucked. From his perspective my raise looks really strong - I called raise preflop and then raised the preflop raiser with two other players in the pot. It's hard for him to put me on worse than a strong K.

In the end I picked up $90 I would not have so I figure Bart Hanson is going to get at least three months out of me before I cancel.

I had another big hand where I corrected an error I've made previously. There was one $5 caller from a very loose player and then a raise to $20 from a tight passive player. Mr. Tight had $95 in front of him and Mr. Loose had about $600. Mr. Loose had just called an all in of $140 with Q3 suited after calling $5 preflop and won. I looked down at QQ and raised to $50. Normally I'd probably go to $60 here, but I intentionally made a smaller raise so that if Mr. Tight went all in, which I fully expected him to do given his stack size, I'd be able to hit it again against Mr. Loose who I figured very well might call my raise to $50. In the past I've made the mistake of raising just a little too much vs a short stack, leaving myself in a spot where I couldn't put the heat on a third player because the short stack all in was not a full raise.

Like clockwork, Mr. Loose called, Mr Tight went all in for $95, and I pumped it up to $225. Mr. Loose called and I hoped for a favorable flop. When the board came out I was looked at T 7 4 rainbow and to my surprise Mr. Loose shoved for $375! I really had no idea what kind of hand would limp for $5, call $45 more and then call another $175, but I figured that any hand that could beat me would probably check the flop so  I quickly called. The turn was a K and the river was a 9. When the cards got turned over Mr. Loose showed JJ and Mr. Tight had AK. So I lost the $300 in the main pot, but won the $750 side pot.

In the end I won about $700 on the night over 6 hours and had a lot of fun playing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday Night Big Hands against Mr. Tricky

I headed in to the Oaks on Friday and played from about 9 until 3:30 am. The late night Friday crowd is even looser than the folks I see in the 5-9 range every week and I got involved 5-6 pots in the $1,000+ range.

On the biggest one of the night there was a raise to $20 and one call. The caller is a tricky regular player who I've played against many times. Mr. Tricky is loose and aggressive and usually either wins big or implodes catastrophically. I raised to $60 out of the big blind with black AA and both the raiser and Mr. Tricky called. The flop came down K 6 5 with two hearts and I bet out $130. The raiser folded and Mr. Tricky made it $330 to go. He had another $450 behind and I had him covered.

I know what I did, but I'm going to try to sort out what I should have done. At the time I was thinking almost all of his range was K's and draws. I think he could have KQ, KJ, KT, 87 suited, 65 suited, and then Ax or any two connected or one gap (e.g. J9) suited in hearts. That breaks down to 36 combos of one pair of Ks, 3 combos of straight draw, 22 combos of flush draw, 2 combos of two pair and 6 combos of sets. I think with this guy I'd have to throw in 10 combos of total bluffs as well. If that's all correct then I'd expect:

46% of the time I'm against one pair of Ks
28% of the time it's a flush draw
13% of the time it's a bluff
8% of the time it's a set
4% of the time it's a straight draw
3% of the time it's two pair

Looking at it this way I should be ahead close to 90% of the time, and in the middle of working out all this mess I realized that shoving is almost certainly best against both the drawing hands and the K's. I was thinking my opponent might fold his one pair K hands against a shove, but I think most of the time he checks back the turn and folds to a river bet with a bare K so I'd just end up giving him two shots to catch up with no added value.

In the actual hand I did shove after a 30 second pause and got called by 65. Mr. Tricky took about 60 second to call me and the longer it look the more sure I was that I was ahead. The turn and river were both blanks and when I showed my hand that fucker slow rolled me! He hung his head and sighed and then after a few seconds turned over his hand. He said he was relived that I didn't have KK, but whatever the reason it was a dick move.

Later on I had a chance for my revenge. This time I had AK of diamonds on the button and I've forgotten the preflop action. I know the flop came down A T 8 with two diamonds which barring a Q J T board is about as good as it gets for AK suited. I bet and happily Mr. Tricky check called. The turn was 7 of hearts, he checked, I bet about $130 and he raised me to $300. Uh oh. My gut feeling was I was against aces up. There was around $600 in the pot and I only needed to call $170 more to draw to my flush so there was no way I was folding. Plus this guy in tricky and it was a super draw heavy board. The river was a blank and he bet another $300. If I was playing my best I would have folded here, but I was still pissed about the other hand and it was about 2 in the morning so I called. I lost to J9. Son of a bitch!

Luckily I got the best of some other people in the game.

On one hand I raised KQ to $30 before the flop and got 3-4 callers. The flop came down Q T 4, I bet and got one caller. The turn was a K making me top two. I bet, and my opponent shoved with what turned out to be K9. My gut feeling was that he was really strong, but then I realized there was no  way I was folding top 2 so I called. The river was a 9 which looked awful, but was actually inconsequential. I picked up about $600 on that one.

On another I raised to $105 on the flop on an A high board and got called. On the turn I spiked a 5 and bet $210 followed by $315 on the river. I got called down by a man who was very pissed to see my hand.

In the last round I got AA again and stacked someone for about $600. In the end I booked a $150 win which broke my losing streak, but I'm still thinking about those two big hands against Mr. Tricky.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Big Advantage of the Poker Pro - Evaluating Hands and Losses

Every hand of poker you ever play will be unique. There will never be the same set of players with the same cards, stack sizes, and mental states. But situations that are similar to past situations come up constantly. One huge advantage I have over my competition is that I know how to look back at hands and sort out in detail if I made mistakes and how big they were. Anytime I can I find spots where I thought what I did was correct was not or the reverse I learn something new and increase my advantage.

I should spend more time evaluating wins, but it's human nature to look back when things have been going south.

I've put in 68 sessions at $2/$3/$5 this year and through session #62 there was only one instance where I lost two times in a row. #63 was a loser #64 was a loser, then #65 was the mega amazing $5,700 crush everyone for 7 hours win from my last post, which I followed up by promptly losing 3 times in a row.

In my last session I dropped $1,600+ in a good game and I've been thinking a lot about why.

Losing 5 out of 6 times isn't all that improbable. In fact if I win two thirds of the time there is still a 1.5% chance that I'll lose 5 of the next 6 sessions I play. So every 200 sessions I should expect 3 runs like this. Maybe I'm just hitting that bad run of cards that is inevitable. That's one explanation.

The other is that something has changed about my play or the play of my opponents. In fact I think I've narrowed down one contributing factor. I've been far too willing to make high variance plays, or put another way I've been far too willing to gamble.

Here is a perfect example from my last session. I called $10 vs a straddle with 66 and after a few more calls a wild player moved all in for about $200. Everyone else either folded or looked like they were going to fold and I was faced with a decision to risk $190 to win about $240. I called and lost to AJ.

The amateur level analysis is: I got it in when I was a small favorite. I didn't win but I made the correct play.

My in the moment analysis was: If I was up against overcards I'd be somewhere in the range of 48%-55% to win depending on the exact overs and getting better than even money that would be profitable. If my opponent was equally likely to have 22-55 as 77-TT that would be a wash as sometimes I'd be way ahead and others way behind (I discounted JJ+ as those hands would probably not shove). I should be a tiny favorite against his range and I'm getting better than even money.

My post session analysis is: Looking back I'd actually be much more likely to see 77-TT than 22-55 and that's the problem. If I'm up against a range of AT+, KQ, 55, 77-TT then I'm only 42.6% to win when I need better than 44.2%. Couple this with the non zero chance that I'm going to get called by someone behind me and this is a pretty big error.

I had a similar situation where someone with about $250 in his stack made it $150 to go vs a raise to $25 and a call. I called and on an A 8 5 flop I check called $100 and lost to 88.

The amateur level analysis is: I thought I was up against a small to medium pocket pair and I was. I was right.

My in the moment analysis was: This guy was also wild and I'd just seen him do something similar with AJ. I had AQ and decided to call and shove the last $100 on any flop fully expecting to get called, but thinking there was some small chance that I might unload a medium pair on a flop with a couple of overs or lose AK if we both missed. Essentially I knew I was risking $250 to win $300 in a spot where I was very likely to be about 45% to win, but there was some tiny amount of equity in him folding in some very specific spots.

My post sessions analysis is: Turns out if I was against AJ+, and 55+ I'd be 46.5% needing 45.5% for this to be profitable. If he's capable of making this play with worse aces or KQ my equity jumps up a bit, but if someone else calls behind me I'm usually cooked.

These are spots where if you've evaluated the situation accurately and perfectly then you have a small edge. The problem is if you've screwed something up - like maybe either of these guys are frustration shoving AA or KK because they're sick of losing or one of the guys who looks like he's ready to fold actually has a huge hand and comes along - then you've made a horrible miscue.

It's really easy to look at those two hands and think "Shit I lost two flips. I got it in close to 50/50 with some dead money in the pot both times and it's unlucky that I didn't win one of them!" That's what I was thinking on the drive home. But a deeper dive reveals it's either correct to fold or the margins or so razor thin that all you're doing is adding to your swings. If I'd just folded both I would have been out $10.

Two other big hands I had were even more gambly.

On the first I had 66 in the big blind and 6 of us saw a flop for $20. The flop came down 8 7 5 with two clubs giving me an open ended straight draw. It got checked to the raiser who bet $60 into the $120 pot. I called and then a very aggressive player with a big stack made it $300 to go. The raiser folded and it was back to me. I had about $475 left.

What I came up with in the moment is "That's a pretty big bet, this guy loves to push draws, that is probably a flush draw which means I'm actually ahead. If it's not then I should have 8 good straight outs and maybe a 6 is good also." So I shoved.

I ended up risking $475 to win $715. I missed the straight and lost to 87. But does that mean it was a bad play?

The rank amatuer analysis here is: Boo! I lost the pot! I'm stupid and/or the universe hates me.

The solid amatuer analysis here is: I was 34.2% to win and 1.6% to tie. Call it 35% to win which would mean I'd need $830 or more in the pot to make it profitable. This was a clear mistake.

The pro level analysis here is: My opponent's hand range probably any two clubs, 55-99, 87, 86, 76, A8, A6, T9, 96, 64. If I plug that into a simulator and I get that I have 41.65% equity against that range meaning I only need the pot to be $665 to make this a profitable move. But what if I've misread this guy a little bit. If he's only making that play with two pair or better I'm only 26% which is dreadful. The breakeven point on this is I need 39.9% equity so the "What if I fucked up the analysis just a little bit" factor of safety is not there. This is not a big mistake, but I'm really adding to my swings by doing this.

I just learned a lot by doing that analysis!

In my other gambly hand there was a straddle and a very loose, sort of aggressive player who is not good made it $50 to go. I had JT of clubs and we took the flop 6 way. The flop came down Q 8 5 with 1 club giving me a gutshot with a backdoor straight draw. The raiser bet out $100 into the $300 pot, which seemed weak to me. Normally I don't expect people to continuation bet into 5 opponents with air, but I thought this guy might. He had about $400 left behind and I thought about moving all in, but I was sitting on a $1,500 stack and one player left to act had me covered. I decided to make it $300 to go thinking that would be just as effective. The others folded and the raiser went all in. I called another $200 and lost to AQ.

The rank amatuer analysis here is: Boo! I lost the pot! I'm stupid and/or the universe hates me.

The solid amatuer analysis here is: This is good and bad. I made a strong move which is good, but ultimately I got it in there risking $500 to win $800 when I was only 23% to win which is atrocious. At least when I called the last $200 to win $1,100 I was getting the right price.

The pro level analysis here is: In order to sort this out we need to decide what his preflop range is, which hands he's betting on the flop and which hands he's calling our raise with and how often we win when called. I'd put his preflop range on 66+, any two cards T and higher and any Ax suited (this is very loose). There are 197 combinations of two cards that make all those hands and only 60 of them make hands that can call a raise (AA, KK, QQ, 88 and all of the one pair of Q hands). That means 69% of the time I'm going to win the $400 in the pot uncontested, 24% of the time I'll lose $500 and 7% of the time I'll get it all in and win $800.  If you sort all that out my equity in the hand is +$212, meaning if I made this play some huge number of times I'd be better off $212 per instance than if I'd folded. This illustrates the power of bluffing with a draw even a shitty one like a gut shot and back door flush draw.

But there are some major assumptions here. The biggest one of which is that my opponent is going to bet 100% of the time on the flop. Let's say he only bets AA, KK, QQ, 88 and all of the one pair of Q hands. Then I've put myself in a horrible spot of losing $500 77% of the time and winning $800 23% of the time which has an equity of -$201! ACK! 

So where does that leave us? It turns out the key here is more psychological than mathematical. Is this the kind of guy who would bet $100 into $300 with a hand that he's willing to stack off with? I thought he would have bet more if he had a good hand. It also leaves us with the notion that if a player is betting 100% (or close to it) of the flops, putting them to the test is a great idea.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What a Difference a Day Makes - A Record Breaking Cash Game Session

Coming into Thursday night I'd played 5 sessions since my last post booking 3 wins for about $900 in profit.

About 10 minutes after I got to the Oaks Club they started a new $2/$3/$5 no limit hold'em game and I bought in for the $500 maximum.

On the first hand I got dealt AQ in the big blind and when the action got to me there had been a raise to $25 and three callers. I made it $125 to go, the raiser folded, as did the first caller, but the second caller to my surprise went all in for $300. Given the action most of the time I'd expect him to have a pocket pair in the 77-TT range against which I'd be about 45% to win and I only needed to risk another $175 to win the $475 already in the pot. Sadly the board ran out all garbage and I lost to AK.

I pulled out another three hundred dollar bills and bought back up to the max. On the 2nd hand I got dealt a few players called $5 and I threw in another $2 to call out of the small blind with 86. The flop came down 7 6 5 giving me middle pair and an open ended straight draw. I bet out $20, got two callers and then someone moved all in for $175. I had about a 33% chance to make the straight and just over 50% chance to make two pair or better. There was $235 in the pot and I had to call another $155. This was a close decision. If I was up against 98 or even 87 I was totally cooked and even against something like 76 or 55 I wasn't getting the right price. But I decided to go for it. The turn and river were both bricks and I lost to 75. Ugh.

The rest of the night went similarly and after a little less than three hours I left a $1,415 loser. About 1 time in 20 I'll have a loss of that size at $2/$3/$5 and it always sucks. I went home had a glass of wine and went to bed early...

(beep, beep, beep...beep, beep, beep...beep, beep, beep). That's the noise I heard outside my bedroom window at 4 in the morning. It was loud enough to wake me up, but I felt like it could have been going on for a while. (beep...beep...beep) I tried to go back to sleep. I failed. I looked out the window and didn't see anything, but it sounded like it could be far away. (beep...beep...beep). I heard one of my neighbors go outside to investigate and I silently cursed him for the intrusion that was surely his fault. (beep...beep...beep) After 15 minutes I decided there was no way I was getting back to sleep and went out to make sure it wasn't something in my backyard.

Since it was 4 a.m. I strolled out there in my boxer briefs and discovered to my horror that the sound was coming from my garage! We're remodeling the first floor of our house so our garage is packed floor to ceiling with furniture and boxes to go along with the normal random garage junk. In my partially asleep state I struggled to find the light and when I found it I wasn't sure if it was smokey or my eyes were cloudy with sleep. (BEEP BEEP BEEP) The sounds was emanating from deep in the room and panic rose inside me as I realized that I was the dick neighbor producing loud beeps at 4 a.m.

I climbed over my dining room table and cracked my head on the garage door opener. Shit! Could the garage door opener be beeping? I unplugged it and nothing happend. I couldn't quite pinpoint where the noise was coming from and I was staring at a set of boxes that looked similar in size to where the ark ended up at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie. I went back to the other side of the room and cracked my head again on the garage door opener. SHIT! I realised that there was no course of action other than to start opening boxes. 10 minutes later on the bottom of a stack in the center of the room I found a smoke detector that was going off. I have no idea why it was going off. There was no smoke in there and it was in a closed box. I cracked my head on the garage door opener one more time for good measure while climbing out of the room and spent the next hour thinking about carbon monoxide and garage fires before finally falling back asleep.

Thursday was a stinking pile of beaver shit, but Friday dawned a new day!

When I counted my money I discovered an extra hundred meaning I'd only lost $1,315 the night before.

I made my way back to the Oaks Friday night, again they started a new table of $2/$3/$5 shortly after I arrived and again I bought in for $500.

In the first four hours I had 5 hands come up where I flopped a flush draw and every time I ended up playing a $1,000 pot. I love pushing my draws hard and I'm used to taking down a lot of pots in those spots when everyone folds. But this time someone had the goods every time and either shoved on me or called my all in shove. Luckily I made 4 of the 5 draws and found myself about $1,900 ahead!

My regular readers will know that a $2,000 win at $2/$3/$5 has been something like the 4 minute mile for me. I've gotten to +$1,900 a few times this year but couldn't seem to crack $2,000.

About this time I got dealt KK and raised to $25. After a few calls the small blind made it $125 to go. This guy was a tight player who had been pretty conservative and seemed a little inexperienced. I was almost positive he had a big hand. I considered just calling and giving the others a chance to put in another $100, but I decided my best bet would be to hopefully get it all in against Mr. $125. I made it $300 to go, everyone else folded and Mr. $125 called. I silently called for no ace and the flop came out Q 5 4. My opponent checked, I put him all in for another $300 and after about 20 seconds he reluctantly called. The turn was a king! Zing! The river was an 8 and I took down the $1,300 pot.

Now I was $2,500+ to the good. I sent my wife this picture and told her I was about to head home.

That's 540 five dollar chips, 5 hundreds and 22 ones (I was actually in for $570 after a small rebuy in the early stages of the session). When you consider that 5 of those stacks of yellow is the most you're legally allowed to buy in for in this game, it's not easy to end up with 6X that amount in front of you.

She said "Holy smokes! You sure this isn't a day to really milk it?" As I was reading that text I got KK again and stacked someone for $250. I decided maybe I should stay.

Then I really, really, really got put to the test. I was in seat 4 and there was a guy in seat 10 who had close to $2,000 in front of him (I'll call him Mr. Patient). We'd been crushing everyone else all night and had both sent a few people packing.

Mr. Patient likes to talk all the time about how his strategy is to be patient. He is good at waiting for a good hand, but when he gets one he isn't afraid to get it all in, often make huge overbets or calling down no matter what.

On the hand in question seat 3 opened for $25, I called with QJ of clubs, seat 5 called and seat 8 called. The action got around to Mr. Patient who was in the small blind and he made it $125 to go. Mr. Patient I knew would not raise in this spot without a big hand and just about all he could have was the pairs JJ-AA, or AK. That's a hand range that crushes QJ suited, and I would normally never put in another $100 preflop when I knew I was behind. But I thought if I called the guys behind me might also call too and more importantly Mr. Patient still had a huge stack in front of him and if I hit the flop hard getting his whole stack was a possibility. I called as did seat 5 and seat 8.

The flop came down Q 6 5 with two clubs giving me top pair and a flush draw. This was a fantastic flop for me as I maybe could have the best hand and had 14 cards that could come on the turn or the river that would make me two pair or better. To my delight Mr. Patient checked and at that point I put him squarely on AK. I bet out $300 into the $425 pot content to tangle with the other two guys in the pot. Seat 5 went all in for $375 and seat 8 went all in for another $8. Then to my shock and horror Mr. Patient went all in for $1,775!

At that point I figured Mr. Patient had AA, seat 5 could have had 55 or 66, some hand with a Q in it, a flush draw or 87 and seat 8 could have anything. There was about $500 in the main pot that in order to win I'd need to beat all three of them. If I called there would be another $1,100 in the first side pot that would be up for grabs between Mr. Patient, seat 5 and I. And there would be a second side pot with $2,800 - $1,400 from Mr. Patient and the same from me - that would be just between the two of us. This was a really convoluted situation.

In the end I went with the simple analysis - I had to put in another $1,475 with a chance to win ~$2,900 that was already in the pot meaning I was getting about 2 to 1 with a 50% chance I'd make two pair or better. I called.

By this point people from other games had gathered around the table and when I called there was a big "Ohhhhhhhhhhh!" from the small crowd. There was more money in that one pot than in all of the stacks at the three surrounding smaller stakes tables.

When the cards got turned up Mr. Patient had QQ! AHHHHHH! Then seat 5 showed A8 of clubs! AHHHHHHH! Now I was drawing dead for the main pot and the first side pot and only had about a 20% chance of winning the big second side pot. Mr. Patient started saying "pair the board, pair the board" over and over. The turn was the 4 of diamonds. "Pair the board, pair the board." I tried not to think about how much money I'd have left after I lost this pot. The river was...the 2 of clubs! The smallest, most lowly card in the deck! The card that people ask for most on the river when they just want nothing to change so their hand will hold up. I stood up and said "YES!" with a small fist pump. I only won the side pot, but it was big enough that I netted $900 on the hand and that 2 of clubs was worth $2,800 to me. Seat 5 won the $1,600 in the main and first side pot, and Mr. Patient walked off to I'm sure tell everyone who would listen that he lost a $4,400 pot with top set against two flush draws.

The next day my wife and I went out and bought a big ass sectional couch with a big ass ottoman that has big ass storage inside and paid for the insurance against damage and it was almost exactly $2,800. I may or may not call that couch the deuce of clubs.

Now I getting close to $4,000 to the good.

Then I saw a flop with 97, flopped a straight draw on a Q 8 6 flop, check raised the flop, missed on the turn, bet the turn anyway, hit the straight on the river, bet the river and got called. " were drawing the whole time!?" my opponent said. Actually I was semi-bluffing, but I didn't clarify and just said "Yep!"

3 or 4 hands later I got dealt 77 and called a raise to $25 from a guy I'll call Mr. Loose. Mr. Loose was one of the key reasons I was still there. He played a ton of hands and was fairly aggressive, but I had a good read on him and I knew if I could make a big hand against him I'd have a good chance to get his stack. Two other players called the $25 and I thought "If I make a set and win a big pot the whole table is going to go from jealous of my stack to just wanting to flat out punch me in the face."

Sure enough, I flopped a set! The flop came down Q T 7 and as expected Mr. Loose bet out $80. I just called and another player called behind. The turn was another T making me a full house. Now Mr. Loose checked. I decided to bet small and make it look like I was trying to bluff at it. I bet out $100 into the $340 pot. The other guy in the pot had about $250 left and Mr. Loose was sitting on about $600 more. After about 20 seconds the other guy called and Mr. Loose immediately went all in! Part of me wanted to just snap call, stand up and shout "AH HA! I KNEW I'D GET YOU! TASTE DEFEAT AT THE HANDS OF MY MIGHTY FULL HOUSE!" But there was still a chance to pick up an extra $150 from the other guy so I stalled for 30 seconds as if I wasn't sure. After I called the other guy reluctantly put in his last $150. The river was a 6 and Mr. Loose showed KK! BOOM!

After not winning $2,000 in a session all year I won $3,100 in about 90 minutes after already being up $2,600. I played a few more hand but at that point the table was so decimated there wasn't much money left to be won. I packed it in and won $5,748 on the night!

Here's what my chip stacked looked like pretty close to the end.

That's 940 five dollar chips, 15 hundreds and about 15 ones. I've had more money in front of me before (not a lot more), but never so many actual chips. Pretty sweet!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Project 10K - Final Thoughts and Stats

I ended up playing 100 hours over 22 sessions and won $6,927 which is an hourly rate of $69.27 per hour. Here are some other facts and stats:

  •  It only took me 62 days to put in those hours which was much less than the 3-4 months I'd planned.
  • I had 15 wins and 7 losses. 
  • My average loss was $825 and my average win was $847 (that's closer than I would have expected!)
  • My biggest loss was $1,660 and my biggest win was $1,846.
  • I bought 21 orders of satay chicken with broccoli and 1 order of french toast with chips, which cost me $220 so technically I won another $220.
  • I got dealt roughly 3,500 hands
  • I'd estimate I won about 400 pots.
  • I tipped about $400 at the table - about $1 per pot on average
  • I tipped another $15 at the cage - $1 each time I had a winning session
  • I tipped the janitors about $10 total
  • I paid about $1,600 in rake to the house and another $400 in rake to the bad beat jackpot
  • If I had not tipped and there was no rake I would have made about $9,350 instead of $6,927.
  • I lost $70 in 0.5 hours of $6/$12 Omaha
  • I lost $225 in 3.25 hours of $6/$12 limit hold'em
  • I lost $285 in 1 hour of $15/$30 limit hold'em
  • I lost $823 in 7.5 hours of $1/$1/$2 (including $460 that was actually $1/$2/$2 at Bay 101)
  • I won $8,330 in 87.75 hours of $2/$3/$5 ($94.92 an hour!) - ZING!
I'm really surprised that I lost at everything else buy $2/$3/$5. I actually lost more than $100 an hour at $1/$1/$2! I know that's a small sample, but that's really running or playing bad.

This was a great result overall. I was thinking I'd be really happy with a $5,000 profit so to land around $7,000 feels great. 

What comes next is I'm going to pound the oaks for a few more months and then start my next project - Project South Bay Destruction!

Project 10K Session #22 - Make a Read and Trust It

I was thinking about taking a full week off after my beat down on Friday, but when Tuesday rolled around I was in the mood to play and close out Project 10K.

I got stuck in $1/$1/$2 for a full hour and got off to a shitty start losing $150 to AJ with A9 on a A J 5 9 8 board along with another $75 to KQ with QJ on a dry Q high board.

I was sitting on a stack of $195 when I got dealt KJ of diamonds. There was a $4 straddle and I raised it to $15 to go. The button called me and the big blind who had me covered made it $35 to go. The flop came down T 9 8 with 1 diamond and the small blind moved all in! Ack! With $105 in the pot and $160 left in my stack I was not getting the right price to call if my only outs were straight outs. I was lamenting this fact when I started to think that maybe a K could be good. And then I thought about the backdoor flush possibilities. And then I looked at the $80 the guy behind me looked like he might put in the pot. I rolled that all into a ball, smushed it down into a bitter pill and swallowed it. By that I mean I called, and so did the guy behind me. The turn was a Q! ZING! The river was a T which made me a little nervous, but I ended up beating AJ in the hand of Mr. $80 call and I don't know what from the other guy.

I dribbled back my profits and left the $1/$1/$2 losing $13.

I was part of the group that sat down to start a new $2/$3/$5 and right away I noticed Mr. Action was back! "I SHALL HAVE MY REVENGE!" I cackled silently to myself while I secretly hoped this guy was not my total fucking kryptonite.

I got off to a good start making plays where I made a read and trusted it in semi-dangerous spots.

After we'd played a round or two I got dealt KQ on the button. Both the hijack and cutoff hand limped in for $5 and I made it $25. After the big blind and the hijack called, the cutoff shoved for $160! I stopped to think. There was $235 in the pot and I needed to call another $135 so I was getting pretty good odds. I big pair or AK might call $5 first in, but being the second $5 caller didn't compute with a huge hand. I was 90% sure he had a pair 77-TT or so and if he did I'd be about 45% to win - more than enough when I'm getting a little better than 5 to 3 on my money. If he had a legit limp + all in hand like AK or QQ+ I was totally cooked. I moved all in to blow everyone else out of the pot and the flop came down K high! Bang! And then the board ran out 4 diamonds...but I had the Q of diamonds! BANG BANG! Not sure what my opponent had, but I was a couple hundred to the good. Make a read and trust it.

I had a little win against Mr. Action a few minutes later. He raised to $15 preflop and I called along with a few others. I had 87 of clubs in the big blind and the flop came down 9 9 5 with one club. Mr. Action bet $35 and I was the only caller. The turn was a 5, I bet out $65 and he quickly folded. I'm sure he didn't have anything and it was smallish pot, but just getting one from him with a bluff was good for momentum.

I got KQ again not too long after and again raised to $25. This time I got 2 callers and on a A J 5 board the guy two to my right fired out $25. This was a small bet into $75 and with a gut shot, position and a seemingly unsure opponent I called. The turn was a 4 and he bet $35, another small bet. "This is so weak" I thought. "It sickens me." I didn't think. What I did do was cut out $35, plop it on top of a stack of $100 and push that into the pot. My opponent grunted in dissatisfaction and mucked what I'm sure was a weak ace. Make a read and trust it!

A little later, Mr. Action opened for $15 and I looked down at AK of hearts in the big blind. "Please poker gods let me stick it to him so hard, so very very hard" I thought. I made it $45 to go and as expected he called. The flop came down J 9 3 with two clubs and one diamond. Yuck. What do I do now? There are not many times when checking heads up after 3 betting preflop make sense, but on a draw heavy board against a loose opponent, that is one of the times. I checked and happily he checked back. The turn was the 5 of diamonds and then I made a poor play - I bet $50. $50 is kind of a neither here nor there kind of bet. There is no way that 5 on the turn makes me anything and it looks like a really uncertain bet. If I'm going to bet, I should at least make it $75 and bet enough to get the job done. As I was thinking this exact thing to myself Mr. Action called. The river was the 5 of hearts which paired the 5 and missed the two flush draws.

I thought there was a good chance I had the best hand as Mr. Action would likely have bet any pair on the flop. Maybe he hit running 5's but that wasn't likely. With no reason to bet I checked to him and he grabbed a stack of chips. Then he went back for more. Then he slowly cut them out like he wasn't sure how much to bet, but kept cutting out stacks of $20. When he was done he had 6 little stacks of 4 chips each and said "one twenty." It's easy to think this through and come out on the other side thinking it's probably a bluff, but you feel like a real idiot if you call and lose to one pair of 3s that thought they were bluffing or a full house that was trapping you. "Of course that was a full house you idiot!" You'd think to yourself. But I made a read that it was a bluff and it was time to trust it. I called. "You're good" he said. I waited, thinking "don't show me a pair of 3's you action bastard!" but when he turned over his hand it was K2 of diamonds. Revenge! Trust it!

That was the big hand I got him on, but for the rest of the night I owned him in the small pots. It was like he knew he couldn't bluff me and he just gave up every time I bet. He didn't get a chip from me all night.

I had another big decision come up a little later. Once again I got AK of hearts (this shit is so much easier with good starting cards!) and this time I made it $25 from the cutoff. I was thinking I might end up making $14 on the pot which is what I'd get if everyone folded, but the button, the small blind, the big blind and the one limper all called me! Whoa baby! Now there was $125 out there with three betting rounds left. The flop came down A 8 7 with two clubs and to my surprise the big blind bet out $50. I've played with this guy a few times and I was close to 100% sure he didn't have a set. More likely he had an AT or AJ type of hand and didn't want to give a free card. The limper folded and I decided that I shouldn't mess around on a draw heavy board - I made it $150 to go. The bettor made a small grunt that sounded like unhappy surprise to me. Both the button and the small blind bailed and now the bettor thought for a minute and went all in! It looked like he had about $450 total, and I felt like I'd made it pretty obvious what I had. If I thought he probably had me on AK or AQ I should fold. But I couldn't get past the grunt (there was no way it was a fake grunt to lure me in!). And I also thought this guy might get stubborn with AQ or AJ. At the time I didn't consider 87 which was actually a pretty likely thing for him to have. Pile that all together along with getting roughly 2.5 to 1 on my money and I called fairly quickly. The board ran out brick, brick and I beat K5 of clubs! Get out of there flush draw! Trust that read AK!

All of these $2/$3/$5 hands happened in about an hour and my stack was soon towering over those of my opponents, none of whom had over $500.

I did have one heart breaking hand at about the 2 hour mark. Mr. Action had just tripled up from $135 to $400 after he got it all in against QQ and AK preflop with QT and managed to make a runner, runner straight (I was rooting for him so hard! Take from the others and give to me Mr. Action!). He straddled in middle position, I called $10 with two red fours along with two other players. When it got back to him Mr. Action made it $50 and two of us called, but the third guy went all in for $84 total. Yuck - I did not want to put in $84 preflop with 44! The flop came down 7 5 3 with two diamonds which was a pretty strong flop for 44. The small blind came out betting $75 and Mr. Action mucked. I didn't have any specific read on him (normally a bet of $75 into a pot of $350 is total weakness, but since it was side pot action that made it confusing) and that was a small enough bet that I could call and hope for a 4 or a 6. The turn was another good card the 2 of diamonds and my opponent shoved for about $175. I was all set for him to check and for me to shove so this threw me off.

I guestimated that there was about $600 in the pot by looking at it (there was actually $661) so I was getting a great price, but I had no idea what would make me the best hand. If he didn't have a diamond I was in great shape with 15 outs to a flush or a straight and 2 more maybe outs to a set. If he did have a diamond then I had 6 straight outs and 2 maybe outs which was not the right price. If he had a made flush I was drawing dead. In the end I couldn't get past that last part. I was expecting him to check and I figured that second bet probably meant a made flush. I made an unsure fold and hoped to see a river that didn't help me at all. It was the 8 of hearts which was good. I could breathe easy. Even if I didn't make the right move in theory, in practice I couldn't have won the pot. Then my opponent showed 6 3 off suit both black! "Wait...what?...wait, just wait...what?...Is that 6 3 off suit!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!...and the all in guy can't beat the pair of threes! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
After that I had about an hour of almost nothing happen to me. I just mucked a bunch of garbage mostly and won a $50 pot once or twice.

In the end I booked a win of $734 on the night which brings my total for Project 10K to $6,927 after 100 hours. Be sure to read the final recap post for more final thoughts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Project 10K Session #21 - Getting Owned by Mr Action

I got my ass beat on Friday.

I played about 30 minutes of $6/$12 limit Omaha and lost $70 and then dropped another $50 in 30 minutes of $1/$1/$2 in unspectacular fashion.

When I got to $2/$3/$5 I had two problems: the worst run of preflop cards I've had this year and the worst player in the game totally owning me.

I played 4 hours of $2/$3/$5 and got dealt TT twice, losing one and winning one, but no other pocket pairs above 55. I also only got on hand with an ace with a kicker T or higher, it was AQ and I lost with it. On top of that I didn't get a single hand with two suited cards T and above.

How far off from expectation is that? We'll I should expect to get any given pair about once every 6 hours and any given AX once every 3.5 hours and one other two above T suited (without an ace) about every 1.5 hours. So that means I should expect about 6 pairs and to get AT-AK once each, and about 3 other suited broadway hands.

I guess after doing the math that doesn't seem as epicly bad as I thought, but additionally I made no straights, no flushes, no sets, and no full houses.

An interesting thing about this total lack of anything is that it's hard to lose big pots. There was really only one big one I lost and it was my last hand of the night. What does happen is you have to keep adding $100-$200 to your stack over and over and over again.

When I was in there I got totally owned by this one guy who was destined to lose all of his chips. This guy was in about 75% of hands preflop. Pretty much any face card, any suited, or any connected hand, or any whim was good enough for him and he was often calling all action preflop with a suited hand (he called a three bet to $50 cold with J6 suited). He also fired at the flop seemingly at random and proudly showed a lot of bluffs. He was there to gamble and wasn't shy about letting us all know it.

I had 4 hands where I got into it with him in significant ways.

On the first I had Q9 of clubs in the small blind,  Mr. Action raised to $20, and we took the flop 4 way. The flop came down K Q J giving me middle pair. Mr. Action bet $50 and I called him. I figured I could easily have the best hand and if an A, T or 9 came off, I could likely take the pot down with a bet if he didn't have the key straight card. Unfortunately another guy came along with us. The turn was a A which was a great card for my bluff plan so despite the other guy I fired $125. The other guy hemmed and hawed for a bit and then folded. Sadly Mr. Action insta-shoved on me for $200. I folded and he showed KT.

On the second I called a raise out of the big blind with AQ vs another player who made it $25 to go and Mr. Action. The flop came down T 8 4, I checked and Mr. Action bet out $35 into the raiser. The raiser folded and I took one off. I had no idea what he had, but with overs and some backdoor outs and getting a good price it looked like a calling spot. The turn was a J giving me a double gut shot and two overs. I check called $70 which was about half the pot. The river was a Q and I figured I probably had the best of it, but I checked and Mr. Action checked behind. He had J8 and took it down.

On the next hand of note I took a pause from losing to Mr. Action and lost to someone else. 6 of us saw a flop of K 9 5. I had KJ in the big blind and fired out $25. I got one caller who was a loose, straightforward player. The turn was a 4, I bet out $50 and my opponent went all in for $185. Ugh. Normally a flop call and a turn raise from a straightforward player is a hand that can beat one pair. If it wasn't an all in I would have folded for sure. On the other hand I definitely had this guy pegged as a "If I'm going to call the turn I might as well go all in since I'll probably be all in on the river anyway" type of guy. I didn't think he had a better K as he would have raised with AK and probably KQ, I thought there was a chance he could have some random K hand, and if he had two pair involving the 4 I had a lot of outs. I called and he showed K4. Sadly I bricked the river and lost the pot.

Later on I was back to losing to Mr. Action. I straddled for $10 on the button (the Oaks has a Mississippi Straddle which means you can put out twice the big blind in any position and the action starts to your left - after everyone has acted it's back on you and you have the option to raise if it's still $10 to go) and as the cards were being dealt Mr. Action announced he was going to call another $5 without looking at his cards out of the big blind. I was watching him closely and that's exactly what he did. I got dealt T6, no one else called the $10 and when it got to me I just checked it. The flop came down J T 9 and Mr. Action checked to me. My pair of tens figured to be way ahead against a random two so I bet out $15. At that point Mr. Action looked at his cards and raised to $30. This was a really unusual spot as I was betting the flop against a guy who hadn't looked at his cards and he knew I knew he hadn't looked at his cards until after I bet. I would have bet $15 no matter what, so his raise didn't tell me a lot. I didn't like that it was a min raise, but I couldn't fold. The turn was a small card and he bet $30. I called and he bet $30 again after a small river card. I called again and he showed me Q8 - he flopped a straight! GAH!

Fast forward one more round and I'm back on the button and again straddle for $10. Again Mr. Action announces he's going to call dark out of the big blind and does. This time one other player comes along with us and this time I have a much better hand A4 with the A of hearts. I probably should have raised here, but when things aren't going well I don't like to push small edges. The flop was very good for me - J 7 4 all hearts, giving me a pair and the nut flush draw. Like last time it checked to me, I bet out $25, and Mr. Action looked at his cards. "One twenty five" he announced. I was sitting on about $375 which was the perfect shove stack. Against any normal player I just ship it here and don't think twice. It's really tough to call without a made flush against a big all in 3 bet and no one with a made flush would raise it from $25 to $125. Even if I'm up against that rare hand that looks me up I have 9 outs to the nuts and another 5 to make two pair or trips meaning I'm about 50/50 to improve. But I knew he was going to call me and that was a wrinkle that is normally not such a big part of the equation. With very little dead money in the pot I had to figure I was risking $375 to win $435. If all of my outs were good then I was getting the right price. In fact against a hand like Q of hearts J or clubs I'm 49% to win which is plenty good with the $60 in dead money. After a short delay I just couldn't justify doing anything but moving all in. He quickly called and said "Your flush is good." Sadly, the turn and river were both black and I lost to 77. It turned out that we had exactly the same number of chips to the dollar.

After that hand I didn't buy back in and headed straight for the door. In the end I lost $1,660 on the night. My $10,000 bankroll is at $16,193 after 96 hours. One more session to go!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Project 10K Session #20 - The 12 Shits of Christmas

I rolled into the Oaks on Wednesday coming off 4 wins in a row that netted me about $4,700 knowing that it wouldn't always be so easy and that one of these times I was going to get smushed by the deck no matter how well I played.

There was a long list for the $2/$3/$5 game and I noticed one open seat in a soft looking $15/$30 limit game so I sat down and hoped for some easy decisions.

Mostly that's what I got, but pots didn't end up going my way. I pushed the action with KJ or an Q T X board, missed everything, and got called down against AT. I flopped an A with A8 against AQ. I saw a fair number of flops and just flat out missed.

I did have one hand that stuck out more than those others. I was in the big blind with 97 of hearts and called a raise along with one other player. The flop came down J 5 5 with two hearts, the preflop raiser and I checked, and the other player bet $15 into the $100 pot. I raised to $30, the preflop raiser folded and the other dude 3 bet it to $45. When he bet $15 I was kind of hoping he was just taking a shot at it and I'd be able to win without making my hand, but now I was on to Plan B - making my flush. The turn was a beauty, the 3 of hearts and I check raised him from $30 to $60. To my surprise he 3 bet me to $90! Normally a turn 3 bet in a limit game means the nuts or close to it, but this guy had been in spew mode for about 15 minutes so a good 5 wasn't out of the question. There were no full houses that made any sense and I didn't think he'd three bet me with a flush on a paired board. I thought maybe it was an ace high flush, but it just all seemed fishy and I'd only need to put in another $60 at most to potentially win $370. I paid him off and he had 33! GAH! He three bet bluffed me on the flop and then hit the one card that makes both of us a hand. That turn card might be the sickest shit of Project 10K.

I dropped $550 in about 45 minutes at $15/$30.

I tired to put that behind me and bought in for $500 at $2/$3/$5. But unfortunately I had a huge run of hands that one at a time weren't all that bad, but everyone made me want to say "Shit!"

I raised to $25 with J9 of hearts and got one caller. The flop came down J 5 3 and my opponent check raised me from $35 to $75. I called, missed the turn, he bet $140 and I folded. Shit!

A guy with $100 in front of him opened for $45, I put him all in for $100 with AQ and he had 88. No aces or queens showed up. Shit!

I called $20 with QJ on the button vs a cutoff raiser and then on a K J X flop called $30. The turn was a small card and I raised my opponent from $50 to $125. I could make an argument for calling or folding here, but I decided to be aggressive. He moved all in for $250 more and I folded. Shit!

I called $5 and then a raise to $30 with 66. We saw the flop 4 way and it came down Q 6 3 with two clubs. A set! Hooray! When the action got checked to me I considered betting out because the raiser was a super conservative player and I didn't think he'd bet no matter what into 3 opponents. But as the action got to me, I saw him look down at his chips and I knew he was going to bet. So I checked and as planned he bet $65. Everyone else folded and I figured that if he'd check weak and even marginal hands because of his nature and the number of opponents he must really have something. So I put him all in for $225 and he called right away. He had KK, the turn was a Q and the river was a K! SHIT!

Then I get a free look in the big blind with T 6, the flop comes down 6 6 5 with two clubs and everyone folds to my $15 bet. Shit!

A little later I raise to $25 with KJ and get called by a very amateury guy who I can tell thinks he's pretty good. The flop comes out J 9 9 and Mr. Amateur bets $50. At this point I'm about 99% sure he has a J. Amatery guys who think they are good will always check a 9 here, and this guy didn't have it in him to fire a draw into a preflop raiser such as myself. He was strictly check call with draws and I'd seen him raise with AJ in a similar spot preflop so I ruled that out (along with overpairs) as well. I take my time to feigh uncertainty and just call. The turn is a brick, he pauses for a second and goes all in for $200. I snap call his ass, the river is another brick and as I'm ready to drag my pot he shows KJ and we chop it. Shit!

In the next one I raise to $40 with J8 of spades on the button vs an under the gun straddle after everyone folds to me. Only the small blind calls and the flop comes down 7 3 2 all clubs. He checks and I waive the white flag. Things are not going well today and I'm just not going to fire at this one with total air. I check behind and the turn comes the ace of diamonds. Well shit, I can't not take a shot after an ace comes out. I bet $65 and he thinks for a bit before calling. The river is the Q of clubs, I fold to a bet of $100 and he shows me AT of clubs! I try to give up against a guy who has flopped the joint and I can't just get a 7 or a ten or something on the turn, it has to be an ace! Shit!

I get QQ in the big blind and everyone folds preflop. Shit!

Then I get AA in the small blind someone goes to $40 out of nowhere. I consider calling, but when things aren't going well it's best to keep things simple so I reraise to $100. My opponent quickly folds. Shit!

I never fold the small blind if there is not a raise. I've decided that it's always worth it to throw in that $2 when it gives you a chance to win a few hundred. I'm not sure if it's right to call with the very worst of hands like 72 or 82, but 99% of the time I call the $2. But a lot of the value is in being able to spot times when no one can call and having the confidence to fire. Trying to keep things simple I didn't want to hunt for a thin value bluff. So I mucked 92 for $2, the flop promptly came down Q 9 2 and someone hand just called the $5 with AQ! Normally I'm good about not caring about what I could have made when I've folded, but this time I was like "Shit!"

Then I get AA again. Finally pocket aces! I raise to $15 and get called by only the small blind. The flop comes out J 9 5. My opponent checks, I bet $25 and he shoves for $150. Of course I call and the board runs out K Q. I kind of figure I'm going to lose to QJ or K9 or something when my opponent turns over AT! GAH! He shipped it into my pocket aces with total air and made a runner runner straight. I'm 95% to win when the money goes in there. Shit!

I did manage to win a few small pots in between these shitty hands, but none of them were interesting or larger than $100 and it just turned out when I looked back at my notes that these were the ones that I wrote down. At that point I was losing a little over $1,200 on the night including the -$550 at $15/$30 which was really not all that bad considering.

Then I had a couple of major hands come up.

One the first one there is a raise to $20 from Mr. Amateur, one call and I raise to $60 with AK. Mr. AT from the last hand who is in the middle of a nuclear meltdown where he keeps buying in $200 every 10 minutes for I don't know how long calls the $60 out of the small blind and both of the other guys call as well. There is $240 in the pot and the flop comes down K 9 9 with two hearts. Mr. AT immediately goes all in for $78. At that point Mr. Amateur who is sitting on about $800 asks me to move my arms so he can see how much I have left. Turns out I have $478 in front of me which is fucking awful because I've been there for 4 hours buying back up to $500 every time I get below $400 and I can't put anything together. Anyway the point is, I don't think he's got a 9 if he's worried about how much I have in front of me. After a short delay he just calls, the 4th guy in the pot bails and it's on me. I decide to keep it simple - there is almost $400 in the pot, I have $478 left, it's a draw heavy board and I'm all but sure I have the best hand. That means all in time! I shove and Mr. Amateur thinks for a full minute before folding A5 of hearts face up. The board runs out two black cards and Mr. AT shows 74 of hearts! Note that he called $57 more out of the small blind with 74. It doesn't take much more than one guy like that to make a game hugely profitable.

The next had was just absurd. I call a raise from Mr. Amateur to $25 with 98 of diamonds. Mr. AT shoves for $95 and gets called by the guy in the small blind, and Mr. Amateur. At this point I'm sure that the small blind has a big hand and that it's probably AA or KK. You don't cold call $95 without a huge hand. For me $70 more is a lot to put in with a prospecting hand like 98, but I've got some chips in front of me now and I decide to gamble a bit. The first card off the deck is a 6 and I think "Man it would be great to flop a straight here!" The next two cards are a 7 and a T!! I count 6 7 8 9 10 in my head four times in a second just be sure, sure that I actually had my dream flop come in and did in fact make a straight. Just as I finish confirming that to myself many times the small blind shoves all in for $400! I insta-call and the turn looks like the worst card imaginable, the 9 of clubs putting 3 clubs on board. I briefly consider which profanity I'm going to spout if another club comes off, but the river is a red 3 and I see that I'm up against KK with the K of clubs (as expected) and poor Mr AT who is in the middle of his meltdown has 66 and flopped a set!

Those two got me within a couple hundred dollars of even, but the "shit!" hands picked back up for a bit after that. I had three hands where I put out a bet of about $100 either as a raise on the flop or a bet on the turn and got shoved on all three times. In each case I didn't have anything close to call worthy.

In the end I lost $593 on the night after 6 hours of play. Amazingly even with a large number of hands that didn't go well I only lost $43 at $2/$3/$5.

My $10,000 bankroll is at $17,853 after 91 hours of play. I'm back in action Friday night. If things are going well and I'm feeling good I might go for a 9 hour super session to close this thing out. Especially if I have a shot for my elusive $2K+ win which would get me to double up territory for the project. If not I'll have one more session sometime next week and then I'll recap the project as a whole and what my plan is next.

T-Pain thinks I can do it!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Project 10K Session #19 - Hit and Miss

Since I have been crushing mother fuckers left and right I decided to push it and head in to the Oaks for another session on Sunday.

I sat down at $2/$3/$5 and discovered that it was a shockingly tight, passive game for a holiday weekend. It seemed like 45 minutes would pass between pots over $200. I don't really mind this type of game, but one wild player would have made it perfect.

My session boiled down to two big hands, although there was one had that played into the story before those.

On the prologue hand I had A5 of hearts and the flop came down T 4 2 with one heart and two diamonds. I check/called a bet of $20 into a $25 pot against an opponent I'll call Mr. T-Pain (because he was dressed how I imagine T-Pain would be dressed on a casual Sunday).

Bottles of Patron Ooo Ooo Ooo, I bet twenty bucks and now it's on you you you

With a gut shot, an over card, a backdoor flush draw and a plan to fire if a scary card came off I called the $20. The turn was a 5 giving me a little something extra to go with my plan. I check called $30. The river came out the 8 of diamonds completing the obvious flush draw and I decided that was scary enough that I might unload a pair of tens. I bet $75 and got snapped off by Mr. T-Pain's T4 two pair. Drat!

Now on to the main hands! 

In the first there were a couple of callers and then a raise to $35 by a player I'll call Mr. S. Mr. S is a solid player who can make a big laydown and as a result can also get taken off a big hand. One hand in a past session I three bet him preflop, he called and then check folded QQ on a J high flop. On this hand I had 98 of spades and called out of the big blind hoping some of the limpers would come along as well. One of them did and we took the flop 3 way. The cards came out 5 2 2 with two spades and when we checked to Mr. S he made it $75 to go. I could argue for calling here with my flush draw, but I decided to get aggressive and made it $225 to go leaving me another $200 in my stack. If Mr. S had unpaired big cards I'd almost certainly win right there and more of his hand range should be non-pairs than pairs. Also there was always some chance he'd unload a pair when faced with stacking off. I kind of wanted to go all in, but I thought that would scream bluff. After some careful consideration he put me all in, I called and he showed KK. The turn was the T of spades completing my flush and the river was a blank. ZING!

This was by far the biggest hand of the past hour so everyone was watching closely and we talked about it for a couple of minutes after. Mr. S said he'd lost KK three times that day and it was the second time he'd lost to 98.

One round later I was back in the big blind and got dealt Q9 of clubs. Mr. T-Pain came in for a raise to $25 and 4 of us saw the flop. To my delight the flop was three small clubs. No need to draw this time! I quickly checked as did the other players and Mr. T-Pain bet out $75. "This is fucking perfect!" I thought. I'd just check raised a bet of $75 when I was on a draw, I know Mr. T-Pain saw it, and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to forget snapping me off of a bluff earlier. I made it $200 to go and after some careful consideration he went all in for $600! I snap called, the board ran out two red cards and I gobbled up the pot. Yum Yum! He said he had AA with the A of clubs and I believe him.

Making or missing draws can often have a huge effect on your results (like what happened to me in Session #7) and this time I got the double whammy of making my draw and having my opponent miss his in the two huge pots of the night. Also beating KK and AA was pretty sweet too!

In the end I won $1,005 in 2.5 hours. My $10,000 bankroll is at $18,446 after 85 hours.

$99.36 an hour! Take that haters! Oh and just call me T-Pain - Mr. T-pain is my father.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Project 10K Session #18 - 88 Miles Per Hour

I rolled into the Oaks on Friday a little later than usual. Normally I head there straight after work and get there right as the daytime players are leaving and the evening players are rolling in. This time I got there around 6:45 and it seemed that everyone who was playing in the one $2/$3/$5 game was just getting started. I didn't get into the game until 9.

In those 2 hours and 15 minutes I found myself in a bit of poker purgatory. I was at the $1/$1/$2 game, it was a great game, and I couldn't win a pot. It was an hour before I won my first pot and that was the only one I won at that table. If you read my last post and you'll remember I listed out 7 or 8 hands where I raised, bet and won. This time around I had 7 or 8 where I only made it through those first two steps. Raise to $10, bet $25 on the flop and then get forced to fold or check, fold the turn. Or Raise $10, bet $25 on the flop, bet $50 on the turn and get forced to fold or check, fold the river.

I dropped $345 before getting called to the bigger game. Happily shortly after I sat down my good friend E.B. sat down next to me. I don't know if it's coincidence or if the way he plays alters everyone else's play so the conditions are ideal for me, but whatever it is I almost always do well when we play together.

I had $500 in front of me and was in for $1,100 (i.e. losing $600) when things started to turn around.

I got dealt KJ off suit in late position and raised a few $5 callers to $30. I got 4 callers meaning there was $150 in the pot. This can be kind of a sticky spot if you flop one pair. I could easily find myself in a spot where the flop comes down J high, I bet $125 and someone puts me all in for another $350 or goes all in for a lesser amount. They might do that with a worse J or a draw, but they'd also do that with most better hands as well. If the pot is smaller and the stack to pot ratio is larger to take more bets and usually more betting rounds to get it all in. With that extra information it's easier to sort out what your opponent has. Luckily in this case the flop came J high, but there were two jacks! I bet $100 on a J J 8 flop and everyone folded. Not a huge hand, but more than $100 in the right direction.

On the next big hand I raised to $45 with AQ of hearts against a straddle and a limper and they both called my raise along with one other player. The flop came down K T 4 all diamonds and they checked to me. I decided to not fire into 3 players with air and checked it back hoping for a black jack on the turn. The turn was the J or clubs! OK, now I have a straight, but it's far from the nuts. The straddle bet out $60 and got raised to $120. Ugh. Normally the min raise is the kiss of death, but there was $360 out there and given that it checked around on the flop the raiser might have a two pair type of hand or even a K with a diamond. I called and the guy who bet $60 folded. The river was a non diamond 9. I was thinking about how big of a bet I could call when my opponent checked! Now I was almost positive I had him. I wanted to bet an amount that a hand like KJ or a hand with a Q could call. I landed on $125, bet it and got called. My opponent didn't show. I picked up about $430 on that pot and was back in black on the night.

A little later I called $5 wit K6 of clubs in the cutoff and we took the flop 6 way. One opponent bet out $20 on a Q J 9 with two clubs board. I considered raising with my flush draw straight draw combo, but decided to just call and there was one more call behind me. The turn was the A of clubs! Bingo bongo! Now I had the nut flush and my goal was to figure out how to get the most money into the pot. The first player checked and as he did I saw the other guy in the pot who was behind me go for his chips. He only had $77 left and he grabbed the whole stack eagerly like he was going to shove them all into the pot. I changed my plan from bet to check in a fraction of a second and quickly checked right after the first guy. Sure enough the $77 went in and the other guy called. I didn't want to lose the other guy and it was possible he was drawing dead or close to it so I made it $200 to go. I could see him thinking "What the fuck!?" as this was a weird way for the turn action to play out. After a short pause he called. The river was a brick and after a check, I bet out $230. I wasn't sure how much my opponent had left as he and the dealer were partially blocking my view of his stacks but I thought he had less than 3 stacks left. I also thought announcing "all in" or asking how much he had left might look too strong and give him a reason to fold so I just guessed when I chose $230. After a long pause he called and didn't show leaving about $10 left in his stack! I netted about $550 on that one.

On the next big hand E.B. called $5 in front of me, I called $5 with 88 and a couple of other players came along. The flop came down K 8 4 with two spades and E.B. bet out $25. I just called with my set hoping the other guys would come along and one of them did. The turn was a small spade completing the flush draw. The other guy checked, E.B. bet $55, I just called again and the other guy went all in for $197. Normally that check raise would mean he had a flush, but this guy was kind of a nut and I thought there was as good chance I still had the best hand. E.B. was sitting on about $700 and I was thinking that if he put in another raise here I'd be forced to fold, but when he just called I called as well. The river was an amazing card - the fourth 8! Quads baby! E.B. made a little motion towards his chips and I started to feel a little guilt about stacking him well up inside me, but then he checked. I grabbed two stacks planning to push $200 out there and he insta-folded. He told me he had AA with the A of spades! He saved himself a lot of money by not raising preflop here. That was another one that was close to +$500 for me.

A little later I got 88 again. And I flopped a set again! And I got action again. I came in for a raise and got one caller. I'd just played a hand with this guy where I called $40 on the flop and $90 the turn with just a pocket pair of 5's and won after a check check river and I figured he might be out for revenge! I also thought that he might be thinking that I was thinking that he was betting lite since I'd just caught him bluffing. That's high level poker people! Don't fuck with me! After the flop came down K 8 3 I bet $40 and he takes it to $110. At this point I have him squarely on one pair of kings. I take my time calling and when the turn comes out a 7, I check. He pushes $175 into the pot leaving $225 in his stack. I consider just calling again, but I don't think I'm going to get another bet from just a bare K on the river and taking into account what I was thinking about what he was thinking I was thinking, I decided to go all in. He pretty quickly called, the river was a blank and I picked up another $500+ net to me winner.

The next big hand of the night was one I didn't win, but was still one of the sweetest. I called $5 with 66 and flopped another set! The board was 9 8 6 with two spades, I bet $25, and got called by two players. The turn was a 9 making me a full house and making me invulnerable to the flush and straight draws which were the likely holdings of my opponents. So I checked and to my sadness it checked around. The river came out and it was awful, an 8. Now anyone with an 8 or a 9 had me beat with a bigger full house. I checked and the next guy to act bet $35. I didn't really like my hand, but I had to call such a small bet. When he showed his hand he had 98! He'd made a full house on the turn too and if he'd bet or the other guy bet any amount on the turn it would have been lights out for me. He had over $400 in his stack on the turn and if he bet, I would have raised and he would have reraised. Instead I only lost $65! This was an amazing dodge.

After I left the $1/$1/$2 I had almost nothing bad happen to me. I racked up my chips a couple of rounds later and left about 11:45. This is what my stack looked like (Disclaimer: this is actually a picture of E.B.'s stack after I left, but that's almost exactly how much I had). Those white chips are $100 chips. I love the other stack in the picture! How hopeless does it look for that guy sitting on $90?

I ended up winning $1,865 on the night! My $10,000 bankroll is at $17,441 after 82.5 hours. Baller Alert!

Friday, September 04, 2015

Project 10K Session #17 - Easy Decisions

I wasn't going to play this week, but on Thursday when my wife said "Are you going to play today?" that was all the prompting I needed.

It ended up being a short session of about 2.5 hours, and it was loaded with easy decisions.

I started off at $1/$1/$2 and on my second hand I got dealt Q9 of clubs in the small blind. After a few calls there was a raise to $19 and a few other callers. Stretching the preflop standards a bit I called as well. We took the flop 5 way and it came down 9 5 2 with one club. We checked to the preflop raiser who pushed $30 into the pot. Betting $30 into a $100 pot looked like desperation to me. He only had about $100 in front of him and I figured if he had the goods he would have shoved. I looked at the other players left in the hand and they didn't look all that happy. So I shoved for $175. The guy who bet $30 called all in which I didn't love, but the board bricked out and when I showed my hand it was good.

A couple of hands later I got into a similar spot. I called a raise to $17 with JT against 4 opponents. The flop came down J 7 4 and the preflop raiser shoved for a little over $100. I was the last one left in the pot when it got to me and riding the high of my last hand I called him. This time I lost to KK. In writing the last paragraph I now realize that I should have stuck with the all in means they have it and the weak stab means they don't most of the time, but oh well.

I took a tidy $45 profit with me as I went over to $2/$3/$5.

There the easiness really hit its stride. On my 4th or 5th hand I got dealt A3 of hearts. I called $5, there was a raise to $30, a call, and I called as well. The flop came down 7 4 2 all hearts! Hey hey! I checked and the preflop raiser bet $55. I was praying he had something and just called. The turn was a black 9 and I checked again. I was hoping he'd put me on a bare big heart and bet big to protect his hand. As desired he bet out $150 into the $200 pot. If he'd bet a little less I may have just called, but he convinced me that he really had it. I thought an overpair with a heart was a possibility, but if he didn't have a heart a 4th heart on the river would kill my action. In the end I decided that $150 looked a like a very good hand so I went all in for $400. He quickly folded.

The very next hand in the big blind I got dealt KK and there was a raise to $20 and a call in front of me. I made it $60 to go and the caller called me. The flop came down J 7 3, I bet $85 and took it down.

A couple of hands later I got dealt AA and again there was a raise and a call in front of me. This time I made it $70 to go and both opponents called. The flop came down 7 7 T which was great for me. If they didn't have 77 or TT I was ahead (I had them folding any other hand with a 7) and way ahead at that. To my delight one of them moved all in for $197. I hemmed and hawed a bit to see if I could lure in the other guy, but he quickly folded once I called. The river bricked out and I won.

After one round I was up about ~$700! Hey this is easy! One of the other players pointed at his chips and said "Should I just give these to you now?" and I said "Sure! My gift to you will be I'll just take them now and then you can have the rest of the night free to do whatever you want!"

At that point I had to go out to my car for a minute and I went to the bathroom. I got back just in time for the big blind and looked down at 97. I flopped two pair on a K 9 7 board, bet the flop and the turn, checked the river, and beat 86.

Mr. Should I Just Give These To You Now said "Man, you walk away from the table, sit back down and get two pair right away. Easy game."

The I had one decision on one insane hand that wasn't hard, but did take some careful consideration. I called $5 with A5 of clubs, a middle position player made it $25 to go the button called him as did the small blind. We took the flop 4 ways and it came down T 8 3 with one club. It checked around. The turn was a great card for me - the 2 of clubs. Now any club would make me the nut flush and any 4 would make me a straight. Also there was no way that 2 helped anyone. The small blind checked and I bet $75 fully expecting a bunch of KQ or AJ type hands to all fold. But then the middle position player made it $150 to go - the min raise indicating a very big hand. Then the button went all in for $625! And the small blind went all in for $225! What the fuck is going on here? You all checked the flop and now you're all going all in?

For me it was math time. There was $100 in the pot preflop. Middle position had his $150 plus another $200 that I figured was going in. I put $75 in the pot already and I had another $550 to call. So I had $100 + $150 + $200 + 75 + $625 + $225 = $1,425 in the pot and $550 to call. I had 12 outs to make a flush or a straight and there were 46 unknown cards left so I had 26% chance to improve meaning I'd need more than $2,115 in the pot to make a call worthwhile.

I can tell you in the moment my analysis was not so impeccable. I ball parked the pot $1,200 and thought I needed to put in about $500. That was clearly off, but there were 6 different piles of chips in varying levels of easy to count and it was a quick count. I also ball parked what I'd need in terms of pot odds at about 3 to 1 in the 1 second I thought about it. After about 5 seconds I knew I was short of what I needed. But I decided to do a second count and be precise about how much everyone had just to be sure. While I was doing that I thought "Duh, you idiot one of them must have a set so the 3 and 8 of clubs are no good meaning you only have 10 outs." I spent another 10 seconds mostly lamenting that I didn't have odds to call and just taking my time to be sure sure and then folded.

Mr. Middle Position called and they all turned up their cards. Middle Position had 33, the button had TT and the small blind had 88! They'd all flopped sets! Even though I knew I'd made the correct fold, I didn't want to see a club on the river. When it came out the river was an 8! A one outter for the small blind. Holy shit! That was a crazy hand.

At that point I started a run of maybe 60-90 minutes where I won every hand that I either raised or called a raise. They weren't all that big, I just won them all.

Called a raise with QTs flopped a Q bet it on the turn and won.

Raised KQ and got 3 callers. Decided to check it and it got checked around. The turn was a ace that also completed a flush draw (the worst card in the deck) and it checked around again. It checked around on the river and I won.

I three bet AK vs a raise and a call and won.

I raised T9 of spades, the flop came down K 9 3 with two spades, I bet and won.

I raised JJ out of the big blind, the flop came down K high, I bet and won.

I raised KJ the flop came down all small, I bet and won.

I raised AQ and the flop came down all small, I checked, it checked behind me. The turn was a J, I bet and won.

7 hands where no one made anything or took a shot at me!

Then I finally got a little resistance. One player straddled for $10 and I made it $40 to go with AK of spades and only the straddle called. The flop came down 9 5 3 with two spades and one club. I bet $40, he called. The turn was the 7 of clubs, I bet $80, he called. The river was the A of clubs. I checked hoping he'd take a shot at it and figuring any worse hand would fold to a bet. He checked back with Q9 and I took it down.

Mr. Should I Just Give These To You Now said "Man, even when you miss the flush draw it's like hey here's an ace."

A couple of hands later, Mr. Q9 straddles again and I get AK again. At this point I'm fully expecting to lose. I've just gone too long with everything working so well. I make it $40 again and this time instead of calling he shoves all in for $175. Of course I call and the board runs out J 7 6 5 T. I'm thinking that I lose to any pair and most of the aces. I show my AK and he goes to turn over his hand. He picks it up and I see AT, the guy next to me says "Ace ten?" and I think, "well it had to end sometime." But when he pushes it out in the middle of the table I see that it's really A9! Ha ha!

I played about another half hour and mostly got garbage. I did have one small bluff not work, but it was not very expensive. At that point I started thinking that if I left right then I could catch my kids before they were asleep. I latched on to that idea and hit the road earlier than normal.

I walked out the door a $1,446 winner on the night. My $10,000 bankroll is at $15,576! Whoop whoop! 77.5 hours in the books and 22.5 hours left to go. This weekend is a holiday weekend which is traditionally the best time to play so I'm going to put in at least one if not two sessions.

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...