Thursday, August 27, 2015

Poker at 35 vs Poker at 25

10 years ago I was 25 and in the midst of a fucking magical 6 week period. I got married on July 16th and a few weeks later won the main Pokerstars Sunday tournament which that day had 3,407 players and a $215 buy in. I went from having $400 in my Pokerstars account to high five figures.

Two Sunday's later I finished 4th in a $215 tournament on Party Poker with over 2,000 entrants and picked up another $30,000. It was nuts.

I went from grinding in $50 and $100 single table tournaments making $200 a day to playing most of literally the biggest tournaments online (which weren't all that big - $100 with rebuys every day, $500 buy ins once a week, and $1,000 buy in once a month along with whatever $215's ran) and the biggest cash games (either three $30/$60 limit games or three $10/$20 no limit games - there were no nosebleed stakes games those days) almost overnight.

And I won.

I can't believe I was able to just jump into the $30/$60 limit and $10/$20 NL games online and do anything but get fucking smoked. But I actually won regularly in those games. This is really an indicator of how soft the games where in those days that I wasn't a cash game specialist by any means and I could just play solid and that was enough. These days you have to be truely gifted to win at those stakes online.

Another thing I remember about being 25 is I still had hopes and dreams of being the best player in the world or at least in the top 10. I was actually a little upset when I turned 25 because Phil Helmuth won the WSOP main event at 24 and I no longer had the chance to be the youngest winner ever. But at that point I'd been on a steady upward trajectory for 5 years. Every few months I was better than I used to be. Every few months I'd make more money than the few months before. It was all up, all the time!

I'm 35 now. It's been almost 5 years since I gave up playing full time and got a job. Of course Black Friday came a few months after than and the online poker world got turned upside down. One obvious, but interesting note about this is that no one I'm playing against plays online. Anyone who has picked up poker in the past 5 years hasn't had the benefit of blitzing through thousands of hands a day. There is no substitute for that experience. I'm so far ahead that they'll never be able to catch me. I should be able to continue to crush them indefinitely. This is a very comforting thought and I try to think about it often.

I've also notice that I really enjoy playing again. I did not enjoy playing when I was 30. The pressure was too much and a lot of the joy got sucked out of it for me. At 25 I loved to play and at 35 I'm feeling that love again.

The last big change is that I use fuck a lot more in my blog posts these days. Fuck, fuck, fuck. See what I mean?

I'm back in fucking action tomorrow at the Oaks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Project 10K Session #14 - Don't Forget Your Balls

I put in a long session on Tuesday and started off with a nice push in the right direction with a $154 win in 30 minutes at $6/$12. I then settled in for what ended up being a 7 hour session of $2/$3/$5.

I always buy in for $500 which is the maximum. In fact having a big stack is so important in my opinion that I will buy more chips if I get below $400 (or sometimes $450) so when I win that next pot I'll be on my way to building a big pile.

I got off to a shitty start. I raised to $20 preflop, bet $35 on the flop and $75 on the turn with air only to get shoved on for $200 on the river. It looked like a missed draw bluff, but I didn't have anything at all. Pull out another $100 bill to buy more chips.

Then I made a pair of kings on a king high board against someone with AA. Pull out another $200 to buy more chips.

Then the button raised to $20 and I called with A3 in the big blind. The board ran out A 9 6 2 2 and I called bets of $30, $90 and an all in for $125 on the flop, turn and river. This felt a little suspect, but my opponent was a player I knew a little bit and he's capable of firing all the way through with little or nothing in his hand and I would at least chop against A3-A8 not counting A6. Pull out another $300 for more chips.

That took about 20 minutes for those three to go down, but in the next 20 minutes it turned right around.

The flop came out 5 6 7 when I had 89 and someone went all in. +$180

I raised with KQ, flopped a Q and got called on the flop, but not the turn. +$110

I raised with JJ, flopped a set and got called on the flop, but not the turn. + $120

When I was in Vegas I saw a guy with a shirt that said "Don't Forget Your Balls" and on the next one I did not. The game was playing tight and passive and now that I was sitting on $900 or so and also had some momentum I loosened up the starting hand range a bit.

There was a raise to $15 and one call and I called behind with J8 of clubs. The flop came down 8 6 3, the raiser checked and the guy just to my right looked at me square in the face for 4 seconds from about 18 inches away. Then he bet out $60. This jumped out as weak. A normal bet here would be around $35 and betting more than the pot on the flop is rare. I called with my top pair, The turn paired the 6 and the villain bet $120. I probably should have put him on a 6 and folded because this was a big bet and that would make sense. But I called. The river was a 7 and the villain bet $200. Now, if he didn't have a 6 he should be worried about me having one, and I just couldn't see a set doing what he did on the flop. I suddenly thought "This could be 97 or 75!" I looked at the very nice sized pot, checked to make sure my balls were still there and called. "You're good" he said and rolled over 98. When I showed my hand he said "I hate you." Ha ha!

Now for another episode of Dave blowing someone off a big pocket pair on an A high board. Ever since that fucker at Bay 101 called my $120 bluff into $140 with JJ on an A high board, I'm locked in on how often that type of thing works for me.

This time I called a raise to $15 with 66, there were two calls behind me and the big blind raised to $100. Normally putting in another $85 with a small pair doesn't make sense since most players aren't deep enough. You're 7.5 to 1 against to flop a set and really you want to be able to win at least 10X (15X is the standard rule of thumb) what you're putting in to call if flopping a set is your main hope. But this guy was $1,000 deep, I had him covered and as importantly he was a straightforward player and I had position. I called and everyone else bailed. Before the flop came out he cut out $120 into a stack and after the flop came down A 7 2, he pushed the $120 into the pot. At this point I'm looking at $245 in the middle, plus his $120. My preflop read was that AK was a big part of his range with that bet size, but of course I considered that he might have a big pair below ace. My balls were still present and accounted for and I made it $300 to go. He threw QQ on the table face up and I took it down.

A couple of hours later a big hand came up. The player in seat 5 raised to $30 and got called by seat 6. I was in seat 8 and made it $100 to go with AK. The player in seat 10 went all in for $200. Shit, I hope that's not aces. Then seat 5 went all in for $285! Shit! I hope that's not aces! Then Seat 6 went all in for $200! Shit, that's probably aces. With stacks on stacks of chips out there I wasn't folding AK. I called and the flop came down A 5 2 all clubs. A quick check confirmed I had the K of clubs. The turn was the Q of clubs. A quick check confirmed I had the nuts. The river was a 3. A quick check confirmed I had the mother fucking pot. Turns out seat 10 also had AK, seat 5 had JJ and seat 6 had 55!

Around that time my stack looked like this:

That's what 390 five dollar chips and 82 one dollar chips look like. If you're sitting with three stacks (ie 60 chips or $300) in front of you sitting across from a guy sitting behind those babies, of course you're thinking it's going to take barely a whim for you to find yourself all in.

Towards the end of the session I had one hand end in very unusual heart break. I called a raise to $30 in a five way pot with 65 of spades. The flop came down 5 4 2 with two diamonds. Oddly the first player to act bet out $30 into the $150 pot. The preflop raiser wasn't going to stand for that and made it $130 to go. I didn't have much, just a pair of fives and my balls...OK I had a gut shot too, but it's not easy calling $130 with a player left to act in this spot. I called as did the guy who bet $30. The turn was perfect, a black 3. The first player checked, the next guy looked at his cards, I see that he has QQ, and he goes all in for $200! Thinking the other guy might either get tied to an ace or have a diamond draw, I put him all in for $400 and he folded. So where is the heart break? He's drawing dead right? Well actually he's drawing dead to a chop. A 6 hits the river and we split the pot. Damn it! This is one that doesn't really hurt since I got half the pot, but it would have been $400+ better for me if one of the 41 non six cards out of the 44 remaining cards came out.

I did find myself in a tough spot in my last round of the night. I was in the big blind with J3, got a free look and the flop came down A J 3 making me two pair. I checked and a tight player bet $35 into the $25 pot. Like the hand where the guy stared me down this was weird. I could have raised but just called. The turn was a 6 and I check called $70. Again I could have raised, but now I felt like my opponent liked his hand. The river was an 8 and I check called 100. I was up against AJ! If I did play back I would have been in trouble. Even though I lost I felt good I didn't lose more.

In the end I won $833 at $2/$3/$5 to go along with the $154 from $6/$12 making it a +$987 win on the night! My $10,000 bankroll is now at $14,059 after 69 hours of play.

When I started this project I was thinking a $5,000 win would be a strong result. That's $50 an hour and a 50% return on investment for my backers in 3-4 months. I'm in striking distance with 31 hours left to go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Project 10K Session #13 - How to Play Pocket Jacks

Pocket jacks is generally considered the toughest hand to play in no limit hold'em. It's a very, very good hand but vulnerable to 3 over cards and it's common to have trouble with it.

There is a great YouTube video on how to play JJ that is basically a guy losing with JJ in a wide variety of ways. Sadly I did my best to emulate the video on Sunday.

The first time I got JJ I raised to $25 and got one caller. The flop came down A 7 5 and I bet $35. The turn was a 2 and I basically waved the white flag and checked. My opponent checked back and the river came out a 3. Given the turn check from my opponent my plan was to call a bet on the river, but when my opponent came out with $110 I decided to fall back on "big bets, mean big hands" and just chucked it.

The second time I had JJ I raised to $35 out of the big blind against 5 callers. The first caller then moved all in for $200! Sometime people will limp in with AA or KK and then go for a three bet and my first thought was that's what was happening. But after a second or two I realized that AA wouldn't go all the way to $200. So I called and found myself against 99 - a hand against which I will win 4 out of 5 times with JJ. The board ran out T 8 7 3 6. Ugh.

The third time I got JJ there was a raise to $20 from the under the gun player and one caller. I was in the big blind and made it $70 to go. After a short pause the under the gun player made it $170 to go. Fuck. I had about $600 left behind and he had me covered. If I'd had a lot more like $1,000+ it would be an easy call. If I had less I might be able to get off it preflop. I was kind of in no man's land, but I decided that I should call and hope to flop a set or otherwise find myself in a good spot. The flop came down A K 7 with two spades. Major whiff! When I checked, my opponent checked behind and I thought "Maybe that's QQ?" The turn came a third spade and I had the J of spades. I decided to trust the QQ read and fired out $200. My opponent instashoved all in. GAH! Now I was looking at about $1,050 in the pot and I had to call another $400. With only one card left those were not good enough odds to draw to a flush. I folded and my opponent showed AA having flopped a set.

I did have one big hand go my way though. I raised with KJ to $25 and got three callers. The flop came down k 9 6 with two diamonds. I bet $75 and got two callers. All of a sudden the pot had really gotten big. With $325 out there I would either have to make a big bet in uncertain territory or check a pretty good hand on a draw heavy board. I was running through what I'd do on certain types of turn cards, when it got real easy for me - a black J came out. With top two I bet $200 and got called by one opponent who had $195 left. I silently chanted "No diamond, no diamond, no diamond" and flipped my hand over the instant a K came off on the river. Full house! Send the cookies!

Sadly, the rest of the night was a real shit show. I had a few bluffs in the $150 range where my opponent shipped it for $500 as soon as I bet or raised. I don't think they were bad bluffs, my opponents just happened to have it those particular times when they easily could have not. I had one hand with A2 of clubs where I got it in against two guys who were all in for about $250 each on a Q 4 3 with two clubs flop and bricked out. I didn't really make many strong hands.

In the end I lost $769 over 4 hours. My $10,000 bankroll is at $13,072 after 61.5 hours of play.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Project 10K Session #12 - The Inverse of Session #11

After getting whooped in the south bay I got back to my standard Oaks routine and headed in on Friday night. I'm realizing more and more that having a routine is helpful to me.

At the start of this year when I really picked poker back up as an every week usually twice a week activity I felt nervous every time I went in to play and my heart would pound in my chest with every big hand. Even though I did well right from the start there was no rock solid way to know if I was playing with a sustainable winning strategy and more significantly the amount of money I was playing for mattered to me. If I had a relatively minor downswing I didn't have enough money in reserve to continue especially with that uncertainty.

Just getting dealt in made me nervous and feeling nervous made me pissed. I used to make $100K a year doing this shit and now I'm nervous in game where I might lose $1,000? I've played over 2,000,000 hands and I'm worried about these fucking guys? But the reality was I didn't have a $50K bankroll with all the time in the world to work it like I used to. I had 4-5 hours once a week. 150 hands a week. That's a nothing sample size and I was worried I'd hit a black hole of bad luck.

When I deviate from my routine these days I get a little bit of that feeling. Is this the right and best decision to play here and now? I know now the game at the Oaks is repeatedly beatable by me with my current skill set. It's a hard fact. But that doubt still creeps in when I go elsewhere and when I lose it's compounded a bit.

Enough of the soul searching! On to the hands!

I sat down at $1/$1/$2 and bought in for $200 while waiting for the $2/$3/$5 and had one great hand while I was there. I had KT of hearts and called raise to $7. 4 of us saw the flop which came down J 8 6 all hearts. The big blind was second to act and I got the sense that he wanted to bet. It was subtle, just a short pause and look at the board and a look at his chips, but it was obvious he wanted to bet. But he checked it along, the preflop raiser checked to me and I bet out $15. A lot of players make the mistake of checking their big hands. They want to give their opponents a chance to make something, but since bet sizes are normally tied to pot size, building a pot early with a big hand is key. Mr. I Almost Bet was my only caller and had about $125 left. The turn was a black 3, Mr. IAB checked. In spots like this it's also important to think about how to best get your opponent's whole stack in there. Many players wouldn't call an all in of $125 on the turn with top pair, but will call a bet of $40 and a bet of $85. So I bet $40 and got called. The river was a black queen and after a check I put him all in. I got a reluctant call and took it down. Last session I got stacked twice in the smaller game and this time I was the one doing the stacking.

I picked up $150 in the $1/$1/$2 before heading over the $2/$3/$5.

When I got there my first hand was KK and I won $50. My fourth hand was AA and I won $50.

My next hand was against a guy who I've played against a few times who falls into the pretty good, but not too tough category. In the short time I'd been there he'd made a few big raises going to $100 against two players who were in for $20 and winning and going to $45 against a couple of players who were in for $5 and winning. He seemed to be taking an aggressive line on many hands. So when I raised to $20 with JT and he came over the top for $60 I decided to see the flop thinking he might not have the big hand he was representing. The flop came down A 8 5 and I checked to him. He cut out $40 in chips and I thought "If this guy bets $40 that's weak as shit and I'm going to blow him off of this." Then he put $10 more on and then another $10 and finally slid $60 into the pot. A half pot sized bet was a little more serious, but it still felt like a pair 99-KK that didn't like the ace or just a thin preflop three bet that was grasping. I decided to trust that feeling and check raised to $180. My opponent quickly folded. If you recall from my last post I bet $120 into a $140 pot as a bluff on an ace high board and got called by JJ. This time I got rid of the likely medium/big pocket pair.

Then I picked up QQ. There were 7 calls of $5 in front of me, I was in the small blind and made it $40 to go. 3 people called me so there was about $180 in the pot. The flop came down J 8 5 with three different suits which is a beautiful flop for QQ. I bet $120, one guy went all in for $80, and another went all in for $210! Yikes! Hoping they both had one pair of jacks I called. The runners were not good - a K on the turn and an 8 on the river, but when I proudly rolled over my queens they were good. +$430 on that one baby!

I'd won with AA, KK and QQ and was starting to have fantasies of winning a pot with every pocket pair from AA-22 in one session. In baseball the cycle is getting a single, double, triple and homerun in the same game. The Poker Cycle - something I personally just came up with - (Really!) should be winning with all of the pocket pairs in one session.

I was off to a great start, but soon got put to the test with huge bets by Mr. H. The last time I crossed paths with Mr. H I called a huge overbet beating his QQ with my 88 in an $800 pot where it all went in preflop.

This time around I raised to $25 with KQ of spades and got 3 callers including Mr. H. The flop came down J 8 5 with two spades. Everyone checked to me and I bet $75 with my flush draw and two overs. Mr. H was next to act and as he put $75 out there he said "Three fifty on top." ACK! This was a huge raise. Normally with a big flush draw, two solid overs, and some back door straight possibilities it's go time. But here my only way to win was going to be to hit. I paused to look at the rough math. I'd make my flush about 1 time in 3. If hitting my K or my Q was good also I'd win about 50% of the time. There was $600 in the pot and I had to call another $350. He had another $250 behind and I had him covered. That other $250 is likely going in no matter what so I'd basically be risking $600 to win $850. Not good enough. I folded. I showed him my hand, he said he had AJ of spades and I belive him. If that's what he had I was only 20% to win and he made a big mistake by making it too much.

A little later 4 of us saw a flop for $10 and I bet $30 on a J 9 5 with two hearts flop with the A 6 of hearts. Mr. H was my only caller. Referencing what he thought I might have he said "Queen ten is looking good here"as the turn came out. A queen of spades which put two spades on the board came on the turn and I said "Queen ten IS looking good here" as I put $75 into the pot. He paused for a second and asked how much I had left. " thousand seventy five left" I responded. I figured I was pretty much fucked at that point even before his did anything. I kind of figured he was going to make it another $1,075 to go, but instead he said "Six seventy five." I had a flush draw which is often worth continuing with but when not calling $600 into an $850 pot (again!). I waited 10 second and then folded. He said he had K T which was the nut straight and again I believe him.

At some point while this was all going on a guy I'd never played with before sat down just to my right and bought in for $300. After watching him play 1 hand I could tell by his mannerisms that he was a novice and after 4-5 hands I was pretty sure it was his first or maybe second time playing poker in a casino. He was constantly acting out of turn. If he didn't like his hand he'd just fold it regardless of where the action was. He kept raising to $10 and betting $10 no matter how much was in the pot. This strange behavior was contagious and soon other people were betting $10 into $80 pots.

In the most glaring sign of newness Mr. New would give a little play by play saying things like "I'll double your bet" and often proudly announcing "I raise" when he was in fact the first one betting and sometimes saying "Re-raise" when he was in fact just raising. I looked at him closely to make sure he wasn't two 9 year olds stacked on top of each other wrapped in a trench coat.

To sum it up, Mr. New had no clue and no hope, but still managed to project a major air of hipster smugness that made me wish to destroy him. But upon his arrival we settled in to the most tight, passive play that I have seen in the 60+ sessions I've played this year. There was one hand where 5 people saw the flop for $5, it came down A high, everyone checked it down the whole way and two players had an ace! Everyone was playing the part of the 70 year old man who was waiting for pocket aces or a set to bet! This was the total opposite of the game at Bay 101.

In a normal game Mr. New would have lasted about 15 minutes. But with this weird mix he was somehow surviving.

I on the other hand was struggling. For two hours I was just getting pure garbage. I was prepared to loosen up my starting ranges and I straddled every button to try to entice some action, but I wasn't getting anything close to playable. I dribbled down from being up $700 to up $300 on the night while every fiber in my being cried out "I MUST HAVE MR. NEW'S CHIPS! I SWEAR TO THE POKER GODS I WILL MAKE IT SO!"

Then I got dealt AA. Yum, yum, sweet aces. There were a few limpers in front of me and I made $30 to go. Only the big blind and Mr. New called me. The flop came down A J 7! Top set! Please poker gods let them have something. Oddly the big blind came out betting $20 and Mr. New called $20. There were two hearts out there and I thought maybe the bettor was trying to see a cheap turn card with a heart draw. Either that or maybe a weak ace? It seemed very strange. Whatever it was it was time to raise! I made it $100 to go. The big blind thought for 15 seconds and folded, but happily Mr. New came along. Get in there baby! The turn was a 9 of hearts which was a shitty card. Mr. New checked. He looked like he had about $210 left, so I bet $200 at which point he proudly announced "I'" Don't let this fucking guy beat me when I have top set of aces poker gods. Just don't. I threw in a few more chips to make sure it was clear I was calling his all in and took a deep breath. The river was the J of hearts giving me a full house! YES! I resisted the urge to throw my hands high above my head, ball my hands into fists and give two massive pelvic thrusts in the direction of Mr. New. He turned over AQ with the Q of hearts and I wordlessly showed my aces. It was so satisfying.

A little later I had another huge hand come up. I straddled on the button for $10 and the action started with the small blind. The player in the small blinds is a guy I've played with probably 100 times in the last 15 years. Mostly at limit games, but the point is I knew him very well. He's tight, aggressive and a generally solid, winning player that is capable of making tricky plays sometimes. He made it $20 to go and everyone folded around to me. I had T4 off suit which is total garbage, but I was getting 3 to 1 on my money, I had position heads up and he had over $500 in his stack meaning I could win 50 times that $10 if it went down right. It was an easy call.

The flop came down K T 4 with two clubs and my opponent bet out $25. I could just call and wait for the turn, but any K would be bad and any club would likely kill the action. I made it $60 to go. At this point I figured my opponent would put me on a draw, a total bluff, a T or a weak K. He made it $160 to go and I thought "That has got to be AA or AK and he totally has me on a draw." I thought if I shoved there he might change that read and I might lose him, but if I could fade a club, an A or a K I'd get his stack on the turn. The turn was a beautiful red 8 and he shoved for $375. I snap called him and he said "Ayyyyyy, you win." The river was the 5 of clubs and I beat AK.

At that point I decided to call it a night. I won $1,273 on the night erasing my Bay 101 debacle in one fell swoop. My $10,000 bankroll is at $13,841 after 57.5 hours. I'm back in action at the Oaks Sunday and then probably back to Bay 101 on Tuesday for Deep Stack!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Project 10K Session #11 - A Journey to the Vile and Unpredictable South Bay

On Tuesday I made my way down to Bay 101 coming off 7 winning sessions in a row. I'd played no limit there a couple of times and played limit poker there a dozen times in the past few years, but I hadn't put in any time since I really started focusing on no limit and playing twice a week. I was really curios to see how the players there play through my current eyes.

Bay 101 is the biggest card room in Northern California and there are a few things that are different about the no limit games there. They have two flavors of $2/$3/$5 - one that has a $200 minimum and $500 max buy in and another called "Deep Stack" that has a $500 minimum buy in and a $2,000 max buy in. The Oaks in comparison has a $100-$500 buy in for all of it's tables. Another difference is they had 5 games going instead of the one, two or maybe three that the Oaks generally has. Also the games are 9 handed instead of 10 and observationally the players tend to lobby a lot more (i.e. their chips are there, but they are not and aren't being dealt in.) so more hands are played 6 or 7 handed.

The players are different as well. They've had this game and this stakes for a few years as opposed to 8 months and the players are maybe a little more experienced and aggressive. More significant is the differing nature of the players. The Oaks is a working class joint with a lot of truck drivers, dock workers, shady characters, and other working class folks mixed in with some professionals. At Bay 101 it feels like the silicon valley tech crowd mixed in with a bunch of hard core asian gamblers. Many of them don't give a flying fuck about the money either because they have plenty of money to lose or they are just total degenerates who let it fly.

It might seems like a wild game would be more profitable, but that's not always the case. The game at the Oaks that I'm crushing (even while drunk it seems) is a game where a standard pot is one person raises to $25 and gets one or two callers or 5-6 people just call $5 preflop. Most players have 10-15X what's in the the pot when they make it to the flop. It's much different if 5-6 people come along for $30 preflop and everyone has 2X-4X what's in the pot on the flop. Also with one or two opponents you can often sort out hand ranges cleanly, while with 4-5 opponents there is major guess work. If you make big hands you can make a fortune. If you don't you're hopelessly fucked.

I didn't make any big hands on Tuesday.

I started out playing $1/$2/$2 while waiting for $2/$3/$5. In addition to the small blind being $2 instead of $1 like it is at the Oaks, you can't just call the $2 big blind, you have to open for $4. So if 5 people call preflop there is $20 in the pot before the rake instead of $10. This makes the game play much bigger, but the max buy in is $200 which I think is too low.

I got stacked twice in short order.

On the first I got dealt JJ and came in for a raise to $11. I got 4 callers and the flop came down 7 5 3 with two clubs. I bet out $40, got one caller, and then there was a raise to $100. The guy who made it $100 had played literally every hand since I got there including a 72 off suit in the field. He'd also stacked off on the flop with second pair a couple of times in the 15-20 minutes I'd been in the game. He was as loose as they come and I was not folding here. I shoved for about $180 total, he called with 75 for two pair and I didn't get any help.

On the second, 6 of us saw a flop for $4, I had 67 suited on the button and the flop came down 5 6 7. The small blind bet out $20 and got one caller. Not fucking around I made it $70 to, and the small blind shoved for $250. I figured that he wouldn't bet out the pot, first to act on the flop with a nut hand, but I was wrong. He had 98 and I didn't improve. That was another $200 down the drain.

All told I dropped $460 in an hour at that game before moving the $2/$3/$5.

When I sat down I didn't recognize anyone at the table and may have never played a single hand against any of them. I bought in for $500 as per usual.

The first hand of significance came up when after a ton of limps, the small blind made it $30 to go. I called with K9 of diamonds out of the big blind and everyone else folded. This is a thin call and thinking back it should have been a fold. I was hoping a few others would call and we'd get a big multiway pot. The flop came down T 4 2 with two diamonds and my opponent bet out $40. He had about $240 left which felt like the right amount that I could maybe take him off the hand and have the back up plan of just getting it in there and hoping to improve if I failed with plan A. I made it $120 to go, he shoved for another $120 and plan A was out the window. He turned over QQ, I bricked out and plan B was a fail as well. I don't like my preflop call here, but still love my flop play.

Shortly after I raised on the button to $20 with J8 suited and got called by the big blind. The flop came down J T T with two hearts. My opponent checked, I bet $35 and he moved all in for $110. This was a really tough spot. There are some players against which this is a slam dunk call and others against which it's a slam dunk fold. But I didn't know this guy at all and hadn't had time to learn anything about him. Probably given that, I should have just dumped the J8 preflop. I think that's the error here. But given that I only needed to call another $75 to potentially win $185 and I didn't want these nutballs to think they could run me over, I called. I lost to QJ. Can't say I feel good about that one as I could have done things differently at a few decision points.

I did have two bright spots.

On the first I had AA and got one caller of my preflop $25 raise. On a 665 flop he bet $35 into me and I just called. The turn was another 6 and he checked. I checked back and the river was a Q. He checked again, I put him all in for $65 and he called with what I presume was a 5. I think I made a mistake not putting him all in on the turn here, but that didn't change anything. I did lament that this was the one hand where only one other player came along instead of the usual 4-5.

The second bright spot came against the same guy who reloaded for $200. 6 of us saw a flop for $5 and I bet out $25 with A4 of diamonds on a 8 2 3 with two diamonds board. One player called and the villain from the last hand made it $75 to go. I called figuring that it wouldn't be the worst thing to keep the other player in the pot when I had a 12-15 out draw. The turn was an A and I check called an all in for $125. My pair of aces was good.

Then things turned ugly again with more tough decisions. I raised 88 to $25 and got reraised to $70 by a guy I'll call Mr. Start Up because he had the look and feel of a start up type guy. I had about $800 in front of me and Mr. Start Up had me covered. I called and the flop came down A 6 3. I checked and he checked behind. At this point I figured he either had a set of aces or a big pocket pair below ace. Since the latter was more likely, I bet out $120 when the turn came out small. He called. The river was another small, I checked and he showed JJ.

This is a pot I would normally win, but there are a couple of reasons I didn't here. First of all my table image was all fucked. At the Oaks, not only do I know the players, but they know me and I'm intimidating to many of them. If you've been reading all of my posts you'll know that I'm regularly getting people off of overpairs with big bets, let alone underpairs and have won pots just like this one a few times in recent memory. On top of that I was dressed like a chump. A clean shaven, 35 year old white guy with gel in his hair in a collared shirt is usually fresh meat. Normally I like to wear a black baseball cap a long sleeved T shirt and be rocking a few days of stubble so I at least look like kind of a dirt bag. Secondly, I was losing a good number of pots which isn't intimidating. And lastly I was not feeling cool, calm and confident. If I had been I would have bet $250 on the river which I think would have done the job. This guy it turns out did call down lite, but it was worth it to make that river bet.

A little later Mr. Start Up straddled under the gun. I raised to $30 from the cutoff with 66 (which is not enough - $40-45 is better) and got called by both blinds and Mr. Start Up. The flop came down AK9. We all checked it down and Mr. Start Up won with 9 7. Would I recommend continuation betting into 3 loose opponents on that board? Usually no. But that didn't stop me from questioning if I should have since it would have worked.

On the very next hand when I got dealt AJ, raised to $35 and got 3 callers, the previous hand was still fresh in my mind. This time it was the perfect continuation bet flop - K 8 2 with no flush draws. Does it make sense to fire total air into 3 loose opponents even on the perfect board? Probably not, but in the moment I got stuck on the "This is the perfect board to C bet" and not the "These are the worst opponents to C-bet into." There was $140 out there and I bet $120 to try to pick it up. Only Mr. Start Up called. The turn was a 4 and he was first to act. He shoved all in on me! GAH! Of couse I folded.

At that point I was done. It's one thing to get it all in and take a bad beat and loose or make a strong bluff and get called and lose, but it's another to get involved in 3 or 4 hands where you're really questioning your play and lose. If you're questioning yourself on a lot of hands, you won't be able to make the strong confident moves that are required.

In the end I lost $1,253 on the night over 3.5 hours. My $10,000 bankroll is now at $12,568 after 53.5 hours of play.

I'm back at the Oaks tonight (Friday) and despite my struggles I'm going to head back to Bay 101 Monday or Tuesday. Thinking about my long term prospects I want to get in that deep stack game and see how it plays. My plan is to play a little tighter than normal to start and remind myself to really focus hard on what everyone is going for the first hour or so. That should help me build up a tight image that I like and hopefully give me time to get to know the players a little before I run into tough spots.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Project 10K Session #10 - Getting Away with Being a Stupid Idiot

On Saturday I was at a dinner party at my friend E.B.'s house and he asked me if there was any chance of me playing later that night. E.B. has also been playing the $2/$3/$5 at the Oaks with some regularity and we've played a couple of sessions together in the recent past. I hadn't been planning on it, but coming off my close to $800 win the night before it started to sound like fun.

After some minor negotiating with our wives, at 9 pm we headed for the Oaks and there were two open seats at the $2/$3/$5 game at table #1 when we walked in the door.

I'd had a few glasses of wine before and during dinner and when the waitress walked by I ordered a beer.

I just about never drink when I'm playing poker without friends around. I learned back in my early 20's that you feel like you're making the same plays and the same decisions, but you're results will not add up. The margins are thin and a few drinks can easily swing you from making a lot of bets where you're a 53% favorite to a 47% favorite. That might not sound like a lot, but that's basically going from being the house to being the player at roulette.

There was one stretch back when I was playing online every day in the golden age of online poker back in 2004 where I ended up drinking and playing about 5 times over the course of one month. I lost every day that I played while drinking and won every other day with one exception. It did not take hard analysis of that data to sort out the problem. That month really stuck with me and I probably only drank and played online a handful of times over the next 6-7 years.

But drinking and gambling go together like peanut butter and chocolate where they're both awesome and then you cram them together and you get the Goddamn flavor magic that is a Reese's Peanut Butter cup. After I stopped playing poker full time I took about 18 months where I didn't play serious poker. But about once a month I'd go in with a friend and play $6/$12 with the goal of winning enough to pay for food and drinks and to just be doing something fun while we were hanging out. I did great in those sessions and it was always a lot of fun. Drinking doesn't take you from an elite player to someone who can't play at all and even impaired I was still able to whoop the schlubs I was up against. And it's really fun to drink and gamble.

With all that said it's stupid to sit with $1,000 in front of you in a no limit game and not be at your best. And after that beer, I ordered another one, and then a cocktail and after a while I was certainly not at my best even though in my own mind I felt like I was playing well and doing the same stuff I normally would.

Luckily the deck was on my side and my strategy has been really well thought out away from the table lately. The moves I make 95% of the time require no thought at this point and as far as I can tell I was able to execute on them mostly how I normally would. It helped that I was getting either total garbage or total monster hands.

Early on I got dealt AA. There was a $5 call and a raise to $25 from a very tight player. I made it $55 to go and was pleased to see them both call. The flop came down J J 4 with two spades and I bet out $100. Only the very tight player called. The turn was the A of spades! Whoa baby! I figured I needed to give my opponent every chance to make something or bluff at it as he only had about $150 left and one more big bet would get it all in. He checked behind. The river was a blank and I put him all in. He folded QQ. Turns out that A was a bad turn card as it killed my action, but I was off to a good start.

This having a pocket pair and making sets and full houses was a trend for the rest of the night.

I had 66 and bet it all the way through on a 9 9 5 flop, 4 turn and 6 on the river and stacked someone for $200. Not sure I needed the 6 to win there, but if I didn't it made me an extra $100 on the river.

I flopped a set of 7's on an ace high board and called a flop bet and a turn bet, before betting myself on the river.

I had 55 on a 5 4 3 board and turned a full house.

On the biggest one, I made it $40 to go with JJ vs a raise to $15 and got two cold callers behind me. We took the flop 4 way and it came down Q J 2 with two diamonds. Zing! I bet $125 and got called by the player just to my left. He was a pretty tight player and I was thinking his preflop call was suspicious. Now that he was calling again I thought there was a good chance he had AA or KK. Then shit got real! One of the other players went all in for $80 and the last player went all in for $320! The guy who I thought might have AA or KK had about $600 left and I had him covered. In the moment I didn't get past looking a the huge pot and knowing I had the best hand on a draw heavy board. I figured I should try to protect it. So I shoved all in and while he was thinking I realized I should have just called and let AA or KK in. After 30 seconds he folded AA face up. The other two had 22 and I don't know what, the turn and river bricked out and I won a huge pot.

I did have one hand that is the thing of nightmares. I raised to $25 with KQ of clubs, got called by Mr. Looks Like He Used To Be A Hippie and then a wild player went all in for a little over $100. Mr. LLHUTBAH had about $550 in front of him and I figured if I just called, he'd call as well, but that I could unload him and isolate the wild player with a reraise. I made it $300 to go. He looked pained and then he said "I guess I'm all in" or something to that effect. Sweet Christ! Some people will smooth call with AA or KK, but not this guy. I've played with him a few times and he makes raises that are way too big with big pocket pairs preflop every time and then he shows them when everyone folds. At this point I was getting almost 4 to 1 on my money so I was stuck no matter what I thought he had. When the cards got turned over he also had KQ...but he made a flush. GAH! This was such a bad play on his part, but what made it worse was that I'm pretty sure he would have folded if I'd just shoved all in. Even though he had to know there was 0% chance of me folding to his reraise, I'm almost positive he would have looked at it differently. He got up right after winning that pot and in my alcohol fueled state I openly ridiculed him. I regret doing that. But I do not regret ridiculing him here, because that was an awful play, I hate him, he has criticized my play opening in the past, I double hate him and I will have my revenge!

My last note in my phone is "Q 7 3 with 2 clubs. Call 20 pre 4 ways. I have 77. Pre-raiser bets 35, I go 100 with 1 behind. He golfs." Not sure how accurate that is.

Other than that one hand with the KQ I ran super hot all night. At one point I crested the mythical magical $2,000+ mark getting to $2,003 to the good. I dribbled back a few bucks and left at about 3:30 am with exactly $1,900 more than I came with.

I bought that first beer with money from my wallet as I have backers involved here and wanted to keep my purchases separate from my chip stack. The next one I bought with chips because it was easier in the moment and vowed to keep a tally of how much came out of my stack. That went out the window with the next drink, but I think I spent about $40 out of my stack.

So I'm calling it a $1,940 win! Huzzah! My $10,000 bankroll is up to $13,821 after 50 hours of play.

Normally after a big win there is a great moment the next morning. That moment when it hits you that you had a big win and there's a fat stack of hundreds in your wallet or in a rubber banded roll that wasn't there at the start of the previous day. On Sunday morning I didn't get that feeling. I felt a little stressed and a little guilty. I should not have played with other people's money on the line while drinking. It's stupid enough to put my own money on the line like that, but worse to risk other's cash and even though it worked out great, I still feel bad about it and won't be doing that again any time soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Project 10K Session #9 - The Dismemberment of Seat 4

I put in five and a half hours on Friday night, but the action against one player in particular was the main driver of my results.

He is young guy who normally wears basketball shorts and a t-shirt, is a little chubby and I've played against him a few times. He's very loose and fairly aggressive, but not in a measured or controlled way. He just spews chips all over the place. On Friday he was sitting in Seat 4 and had about $1,200 in front of him when I sat down. I played 6 hands where he was the key villain over the course of about 45 minutes.

On the first big hand against him, he straddled for $10, I raised to $40 with KJ and he was my only caller. The flop came down 9 8 4 with two diamonds and I bet out $55. This was an extremely draw heavy board and I was not at all surprised to see him call. This was actually kind of a tricky spot as I expected him to call preflop with just about anything and expected him to call the flop with just about anything. I had no idea what he had. I could probably rule out the total garbage hands like 23, 25, 73 and others like that, but other than that I was flying blind with not much of a hand. Happily the turn was a J and I bet out $100. As expected he called. The river was an A which wasn't a great card, but there was really no reason to think he had an A. I decided to check hoping he'd bluff with a missed draw and also to save myself some money if he happened to be calling along with a monster. He bet out $100, I quickly called, and he showed me K9.

A little later Seat 4 opened for $20 and after 2 other callers I called out of the big blind with KJ. The flop came down K Q 5. The way to beat loose aggressive players is to let them bet into your made hands, so I checked. Seat 4 bet out $65, the others folded and I just called even though I was very likely to have the best hand. The turn was another K making me trips. Now I was almost certain to have the best of it. I checked again hoping he'd continue to fire, but sadly he checked behind me. The river was a 6 and I considered betting, but decided it would look so weak to check again that I'd be very likely to see a bet no matter what he had. Seat 4 didn't disappoint this time putting $200 into the pot. I considered raising, but I couldn't think of any hands he could have that could call a raise and still lose to my trips. I figured 95% of the time I'd be looking at a fold and 5% of the time I'd get stacked. I called and he folded his hand face down.

I picked up $300 on those hands with some smart river checks and felt really satisfied about it.

I had two other hands where I raised, he was the only caller, I bet the flop and he folded. Not exciting, but good for momentum.

On the next one I had J4 on the button and with 5 of us in there the flop came down 8 8 4. Seat 4 bet $20 into the $20 pot and I called. I didn't think there was any way he'd bet out with an 8 and if he had a 4 it could literally be anything for 42 on up to A4. I was little worried about a hand like 55 or 66, but not enough to fold. The turn was a 7 and he checked reinforcing my read that he had a 4. I bet $55 and he called. The river was an A, we both checked and I beat 94.

On the last hand I played against Seat 4 I raised to $20 with K9 suited and he was the only caller out of the big blind. The flop came down K 8 4 and he checked to me. Thinking back on those two hands where he folded to my continuation bets and seeing a very dry board I took a non standard line and checked it back. The turn was a J. He checked, I bet $25 hoping it looked like a desperate bluff, and he called. The river was a 3 which didn't change anything, and he bet out $55. I figured this was either desperation or two pair, so I had to call thinking I'd win at least half the time. He turned over QQ! Yowza!

Within the next few minutes he spewed off his last couple hundred to someone else and headed for the door. After this run I was ahead about $800 and having a great time.

I had one really tough spot come up later in the session. There were two wild players to my left who had been in almost every pot and just behind them was a tight, fairly straightforward player. I opened for $25 with JJ, both the wild guys called and the tight player made it $100 to go. I felt like about 90% of his range was QQ, KK, AA or AK, and the rest was JJ, TT, AQ with some very tiny chance of random others. If you look at the AA-QQ and AK part there are 6 two card combinations to make each of the pairs and 16 combinations that make AK so if I assume that he has one of those 4 hands it's actually pretty close to even money that he has AK vs a pair even though there are 3 paired hands and one non pair hand in that range. Anyway, I called the $100 and one of the wild guys came along too. The flop came down 9 6 4 with no flush draws possible. I checked and Mr. Tight made it $150 to go. I figured he would do this with AK or an over pair so I called still holding out hope it was AK. The turn paired the 4 and I checked again. Now he bet $250. Normally 9 6 4 4 is a great board for JJ, but this time it was not. If that $250 was all he had left I might have called him, but he had another $500 behind so I let it go.

Other than that one hand, the rest of the night went mostly smoothly and I ended up winning $794 on the night! My $10,000 bankroll is at $11,881 after 43.5 hours of play.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Project 10K Session #8 - Big Pocket Pairs Are Worthless Piles of Beaver Shit

Losing with big pocket pairs can be really frustrating. It's only once every 54 hands (or about every hour and a half) that you'll get a pair JJ-AA so you have to wait and wait and wait, and then many times you get no action and inwardly bitch about it. But, friends it can always be worse...

I sat down at a $1/$1/$2 game where one guy had about $1,500 in front of him. This is an insane stack as the max buy in is $200. He was a nut and I got involved with him and another player in a big hand early on. I got dealt JJ, made it $10 to go and got 4 callers. The flop came down J 6 2 - YAY! But it was all spades - BOO! The player just to my right that had limped preflop bet out $20. I wasn't messing around and made it $60 to go. Mr. 1,500 cold called the $60, and the other guy made it $210 to go! Holy smokes! It figured that this guy had a made flush, but even if he did I was getting the right price to call and there was some chance he had 66 or 22. I put in my remaining $120 or so and was all in. Mr. 1,500 called and they got another $100 in on the turn before the raiser was all in. He had K8 of spades and Mr. 1,500 had the ace of spades. The turn and river were both red, non-pair cards and I saw a huge pot go the wrong way. Stupid sets of jacks!

After other minor bumps I was stuck $250 in that game when I got called for the $2/$3/$5 and got into a tough spot right away. I open raised in late position to $25 with A9 and got one caller who I hadn't played with before. He was sitting on about $250 when the hand started. The flop came down A 7 6 with two hearts. I bet $45 and he raised me to $110. Ugh. The secret sauce here is figuring out 1) Is this the kind of guy who would raise a draw in this manner 2) Is this the kind of guy who would call a raise preflop with Ax suited with the X being a small card and raise a weak ace in this manner 3) Is this the kind of guy who will put me on AK if I three bet him and be able to make a big laydown with AT-AQ? These are questions you can easily answer about a player after a few hours with them, but it's hard when you've played no hands against him. If the answer is no to all of them like it is with many players, it's a clear fold. If it's yes for all 3 it's probably shove time. Without anything to base it on I hoped this guy was the kind of guy who I could answer 'Yes' to for 1, 2, or 3. I put him all in for $225 and he snap called me with AK. Fudge!

I spent a lot of time questioning that play over the next 10-15 minutes, but after playing with that guy for 4 hours I would 100% shove on him there knowing what I know now. He raised me with a bunch of weak shit later on on A high boards and called raises with very weak suited hands often. That doesn't change the fact that it was highly questionable to shove there against a random opponent, but it did make me feel a little better.

I had a few other minor hands go against me and slipped down to -$800 on the day and was thinking how it would be nice to walk in and just have shit work for a change! But I was not discouraged.

I called $30 on the button with KQ and took a flop 3 way. The flop came down A J 4 and the preflop raiser bet out $40. This was a small bet for him and I figured it was either a set, AJ or a miss. So I called thinking if I hit a 10 I'd stack a set and if I was against a miss I'd take the pot on the turn. The other player called which gummed things up a bit on the bluffing front, but when they both checked to me on the turn, I fired out $150 without hesitation. The other player folded and the preflop raiser said "God Damn it!" and folded KK face up! Yum, yum, the sweet taste of bluffing KK with KQ is so sweet!

Over the course of the next couple of hours I flopped 2 straights and got a little action. But then lost $150 with AA ks K8 on a T 9 8 8 4 board. I made some pairs and missed some thin draws. I stole a shitload of small pots. It was mostly up with the few small downs.

Then over the course of a few hands I destroyed this one guy so hard it's almost not fair. I'll call him Mr. Curious.

I didn't note the details, but on one hand I remember I hero called a bet of $60 into a $60 pot on the river with 23 with just the 2 paired and it was good. 

On the second hand Mr. Curious raised to $35 and after 2 calls I called with A8 of spades in the big blind. The flop came down 9 6 2 with two spades. I checked, Mr. Curious bet $120, the others folded and I made it $250 to go. He had about $300 left after his bet and spent about 60 seconds mumbling to himself about what I might have. I spent this time listing to 10% of my inner monologue making the case that the best outcome is him calling and me hitting so a call wouldn't be all that bad while the other 90% is screaming FOLD FOLD FOLD! Eventually he folded KK face up! I'm bluffing pocket kings all over the place baby!

He asked me what I had and I told him that I couldn't tell him because I wanted him to squirm inside with doubt (really!). He asked me a few more times over the next hour and I gave him the same answer.

Facing a lot of limpers Mr. Curious made it $40 to go and I made a loose call (translation: a bad call) with 86 of hearts hoping a few others would come in behind me, but they all folded and we took the flop heads up. It came out 7 5 4 making me the nut straight! I was thinking about how to get max value from Mr. Curious when he made it super easy on me by moving all in for $200. You'll never believe what he had...KK again! No miracles came for him and I scooped a nice pot.

Mr. Curious bought back in for $100 and a few minutes later he called a raise to $15. I looked down at AA and made it $40 to go out of the big blind. The raiser bailed but Mr. Curious called as I figured he would. The flop was T 9 3 and I put him all in for his last $60. He called with KT, missed and I got him again. He stood up to leave and again asked what I had in the hand where I'd made it $250 to go with A8. This time I told him what I had, not to rub it in, but because I felt a little bad for crushing him so hard and he seemed like he really wanted to know.

I guess all big pairs aren't worthless piles of beaver shit, but if you bring KK anywhere near me expect some stink.

In the end I banked a $377 win over 5 hours. My $10,000 bankroll is at $11,087 after 38 hours of play.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Project 10K Session #7 - Come Visit the Wild and Dangerous Draw City

I ended up going to a party Friday night so I ended up heading to the Oaks on Saturday afternoon instead of my normal Friday. When I sat down at $2/$3/$5 I saw more new faces than normal and bought in for my usual $500. The first hour and fifteen minutes were totally nuts with 7 big hands.

Hand #1 - I saw a flop for $5 with 87, flopped a straight on an 9 T J two diamond board and found myself facing a bet of $20. I had four players left to act behind me and on many boards with a huge hand I would just call, but not that board - I made it $50 to go. The button was a guy I'll call Mr. H (because his name starts with H!). I've played with him off and on at the Oaks since I first started playing in 2001. He's maybe in his 40's and I think he's from the Philippines originally. He talks a lot and we joke around a lot. I know I give him trouble, and I have good read on him. He shoved for 95 and put the $20 bettor who had $250 left in a tough spot. Eventually he called, I put him all in, and he looked so sad, but called anyway. Mr. H had 72 of diamonds and Mr $20 bet had AQ with the Q of diamonds. The turn was a small diamond making Mr. H a flush, the river was a blank and I won the side pot, but missed out on the $300 main pot. I was 49% to win all of the money when it went in on the flop. This was OK.

Hand #2 - A guy across the table from me raised to 30 and I called in the small blind with AK with the K of spades. The flop came down 8 9 T all spades. Betting out or check calling were both options, but I went for the check raise and took it from $45 to $125. My opponent called. The turn was a red K which was a fantastic card for me as I went from a semi bluff to very likely having the best hand. I shoved all in and my opponent waited for about 90 second before calling off his last $200. The river was a J and my opponent turned over JJ with the J of spades. GAH! I was 38% to win on the flop there and 77% on the turn. This was bad!

Hand #3 - In a preflop limped pot, I bet out $25 on a A 9 2 two club flop with 98 of clubs. The guy just to my right made it $50. He was a young guy who seemed inexperienced and I was 95% sure this was one pair of aces with a weak or medium kicker. Even though I was sure I was behind I felt like I could intimidate him. I decided to put him to the test as I was about 50/50 to make two pair or better and thought I might be able to unload him - I made it $150 to go. He reluctantly called. On the turn I made my flush, put him all in for $100 and he again reluctantly called. He mucked when I showed my hand. This was good!

Hand #4 - I had 54 of clubs in the big blind and called a raise to $15 in a 6 way pot. The flop came down A 4 2 with two hearts giving me a pair and a gut shot. I checked, the player to my left bet $25 which is a really small bet into a $90 pot. Two players called and I called as well. The turn was a 5 making me two pair. Someone could have had a 3 making them a straight, but unless it was A3 it wasn't likely. I bet out $110 thinking I might get called by a heart draw, but would probably unload anyone with an ace. I got 2 callers! Yikes! I was ready to waive the white flag no matter what, but when the river was the 7 of hearts, I knew my goose was cooked. I checked, the player to my left went all in for $50, and the other went all in for $150. They both made flushes and AJ of hearts took it down. This was bad!

Hand #5 - 7 players called $5 preflop before the small blind who raised it to $35. I had A6 of hearts and 5 of us saw the flop. The small blind bet $100 into the $190 pot on a Q J 5 two heart board. Everyone folded to me with one player still left to act behind me. I felt pretty sure this was a legit hand. Players almost never raise out of the sb lite, they don't often bet $100 into 4 opponents without something good, and he only had $125 left so he was probably pot committed. If I put him all in and he called I'd be risking $225 to win $415. If he had a hand like KK I'd be 45% to win so this was the right price. If he had AQ I'd be 36% which would make it about a break even move in the long run. If he had a set I'd be 25% to win and it would be a losing proposition. In the moment the rough math told me I was 2 to 1 against to make my flush and thinking I wasn't quite getting the right price. But there was some small chance he'd fold or I'd get action from the guy behind as well improving my value when I hit. I made it $300, the other player folded and the first guy said "Will you show if I fold?" I was as still as a statue. He said "I have a big hand" and I believed him. I willed him to fold...and he did! Afterward everyone congratulated him on making a great fold. Ha! This was good!

Hand #6 - The key villain in the next two hands was a guy I'll call Mr. W because he smelled like weed when he walked in. He is 40's, thin, small, asian and I knew from playing with him in the past that he is a loose player. I opened for $20 with JJ and got 3 callers including Mr. W. The flop was T 9 2 which looked great to me. I bet $60 into the $80 pot and only Mr. W called. The turn was a 7 and I put him all in for $100. He called and flipped over 8 6 for a straight! Son of a bitch! What a great board for JJ. Oh well.This was bad!

Hand #7 - About 5 minutes later I got myself into a really tough spot with KT of spades. I called Mr. W's raise to $20 in the big blind and we took the flop 4 way. The flop came down 9 6 2 with two spades, I checked, Mr. Big Watch to my left bet $25 and Mr. W made it $90 to go. At this point I was pretty sure he had a pretty solid hand that was likely and overpair or A9, but for some reason I was feeling full of confidence after my A6 of hearts victory and decided to make a play at the pot. He had about $250 left after the $90 which was enough that if I shoved it would put him in a tough spot. But I thought that would look like a draw. I asked myself "how would this guy expect me to play a set?" The answer was I'd just call the $90. So that's what I did, hoping for a spade on the turn, and planning to represent a set if I missed. Mr. Big Watch folded and sadly I got a red 7 on the turn. I could make an argument for checking here and hoping my flop call is scary enough that it would go check check and I'd see a free river. But in the moment I went for it and put him all in for $250. He called right away with JJ, I missed my K and my spades and another big pot went his way. Grrrrr. This was bad!

This is a lot of action for an hour and fifteen minutes! If you add up the 1 OK, two goods and 4 bads I was stuck about $500.

A while later I got into it again with Mr. W who was now sitting of a big pile of chips mostly funded by me. I raised to 25 on the button with 99 and got two callers. The flop came down K 6 2 with two diamonds and I bet $60 after it checked to me. Only Mr. W called. The turn was an 8 and he checked to me again. Against some players I'd check back here, but he'd been calling me super lite thus far so I figured I'd bet again for value - I fired out $120 and again he called. Now I thought maybe he had a king, but probably he hand a flush draw. I figured if I could fade the diamonds I'd be good. The 3 of spades came on the river. This looked like a perfect card. Then Mr. W went all in! WHAT?! I had about $250 left and there was about $680 in the pot. From what I knew of Mr. W I didn't think there was any way he'd just call the turn with a set or two pair, and I didn't think he'd play a K this way either. The key question was, what did the 3 change? The only answer was 54 is now a straight. That was the only big hand that made any sense at all. It had to be 54 of diamonds or a flush draw that missed and was now making a desperate bluff. It was either one or the other. In the end I figured I was going to lose about 2/3 of the time, but was getting good odds to call. I called and lost to 54 of spades. FUUUUUUUCK! I can't believe this guy called $60 into $80 pots twice with just bare gut shots and beat me twice. On the turn he picked up more outs, but I was still sick of it.

At that point I'd lost to a flush draw twice, missed a flush draw twice, lost to a gut shot straight draw twice, made one flush and stolen one with a flush draw. Not a recipe for success.

That brought me down to -$1,000 on the night and I was all the way down to -$1,250 when the next hand came up.

Mr. W came in for a raise to $20, one player called, I called with 88, another two players called and then the action was on Mr. H. He moved all in for $320! The player to my right who is loose and likes to gamble went all in for about $90 total and it was back to me. There was about $500 in the pot and I needed to call another $300. I totally ruled out AA and KK and Mr. H is too smart to just shove with those. It seemed like AK was the most likely possibility. I took my time and considered that it might me JJ or TT, but it could just as easily be 66 or 77. A medium pair was more likely than a small one, but this big shove just screamed AK to me and if it was AK I'd be roughly 55% to win. So I called. If you're going to play, you can't forget your balls! To my utter delight the flop came with an 8 on it and the turn paired the board! Mr. H showed QQ! Yowza! Living up to his name Mr. Loose Gamble showed 75 suited. I got really lucky here as I was only 17% to win when the money went in.

If I lose that pot I'm out the door a $1,600 loser on the night. Instead all of a sudden had a decent stack.

Then I got KK, raised to 25 and got called by Mr. W and one other player. Come on baby! Let me stick it to this guy one time. Calling me down with fucking gut shots all night long. It's revenge time! The flop came down T 8 2 rainbow and I bet $60. Mr W called. A ha! The turn was a king. Top set baby! I bet 125 and Mr. W called again. Double a ha! Please lord give this guy something. The river paired the 8 which was a fantastic card making me a full house and the second nuts. I bet $250 and Mr. W paused to think. I considered the soul crushing possibility that he might have 88, but only because that was the only hand I couldn't beat. After 30 seconds he said "I know I'm beat. I call." I showed him the goods and he said he had an 8, but I'm not sure I belive him. Take that!

A little later I got my gut shot revenge as well. I called $25 preflop with A2 of hearts against 5 opponents. The flop came down A 3 4 with one heart and I called a bet of $60. On the turn I made the wheel when a 5 came and I just called a bet of $100. My opponent checked the river dark, I bet $160 after an 8 came off and beat AK.

Pile all that shit together and I came out a $63 winner on the night after 6 hours of play! My $10,000 bankroll is a $10,710 after 33 hours of play. It feels great to dodge a big loss.

I'm making it a new goal to book a $2,000 win during project 10K. I think keeping that top of mind will keep me there an extra couple of hours when I'm winning which is the time to push it on the session length. Back in action Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Project 10K Session #6 - The Agony and the Ecstasy

I got into a big hand and soon as I sat down at $2/$3/$5. A loose aggressive player opened for $25 and another similar player called him. I looked down at the A of hearts and the Q of spades and made it $75 to go. They both called. "Ace of hearts, queen of spades, about $225 on the pot, looking to bet about $150 on most flops." I thought as the flop came out. In a big pot a mini recap of the situation and your suits is always a good idea.

The flop came down T 4 2 all hearts. "Great! I have the ace of I have the ace of hearts? Yes. I'm sure. I just repeated it to myself so I don't need to look back."

The initial raiser came out betting $130 and got called! This was a big surprise. It's very rare for someone to bet out into a preflop 3 bettor in this game. "Do I shove here? I think I have to. I've got about $400 and they both have about $500. I'm about a 2 to 1 dog to make the flush, but that's the move. They're probably going to call. Right? These guys aren't folding. But maybe they might. No, not both of them. But I might have 15 outs. Or probably either the A or the Q, but not both will be good. I can't just call can I? No. Too weak to just call. Got more money in my pocket if I miss." This is what I thought. A quiet "All in" is what I said...

When I went up to the board at the Oaks on Tuesday I was the 5th name on the list for $2/$3/$5 and there was only one game going so I knew I'd need to wait a bit. I took an open seat at the $6/$12 limit game while I waited.

I took the big blind, got dealt K6, flopped a king, bet it all the way, got some action and added $100 to my stack right away. "This is smart and great! I should really be sticking to $6/$12 while waiting and not $1/$1/$2." I thought. Then I sat there for the next two hours getting my ass beaten by 3rd rate players. I only won one other pot in that stretch and found myself stuck almost $400. "This is stupid and shitty. I should really be playing $1/$1/$2 while waiting and not $6/$12" I thought.

Finally enough people piled on to the $2/$3/$5 list for them to start another game. They announced the new game just as I posted my small blind in the $6/$12. I looked down at AK for my final hand at that table. Most of the table called in front of me, I raised and we took the flop 8 way for $12 each.

The flop came down Q J T! Holy shit! There were two hearts out there, but I had the nuts on a board that was perfect for making second best hands. I bet, someone raised, I three bet it and they capped the betting at 4 bets. All 8 of us put in another $24. "No board pairs, no hearts please." I thought. The turn was a black 6. Bet, raise, three bet, cap again on the turn! Not everyone came along, but it was a huge pot. At this point I was sure I was up against another AK and maybe AK of hearts. "No board pairs, no hearts please." I thought. The river was a black 2. I bet, got one call, the other player raised and I just called to entice the last call which I got. It was in fact another AK and a poor guy with 98. My half of that pot netted me $175! I'm not sure I've ever picked up so many chips in a split pot before.

Other than the hand I'm leaving up in the air to make you sweat, I had 4 other hands of note.

On the first I got dealt QQ and raised to 90 out of the small blind over a raise of $35. I got called and was thinking "This guy has like two something left, I'm going with this probably no matter what." The first card off the deck was a Q along with two smalls! Top set!

I took a closer look at my opponent's stack and realized that even though he only had two stacks they were about 40 chips high, not 20-25 so he actually had more like $400. I bet out $65 which is a really small bet in to $180 hoping to project weakness. My opponent instantly shoved all in! HEEEEY OH! I snap called him feeling like a genius for betting $65. He didn't show and I took down a very nice pot.

Just after that, I had a misfire when I bet 86 on a 6 5 4 flop. I bet $35 into a $50 pot after 5 way $10 preflop action. I got one caller, the turn was a 3 and I bet $110 trying to represent a 7. I got called and knew it was time to surrender. The river was an 8 which gave me some hope. It went check, check which gave me more hope. I lost to a set of fours. Barf. I'm not sure if misplayed that one or not, but I don't feel great about it.

Later on I had another potentially huge hand fizzle. I called $5 with 87 in the cuttoff vs 5 opponents and the flop came down 9 6 5 with two clubs! I'm floppin' nut straights today baby! It checked to the player just to my right who bet $25, I just called, and two other players came along. I was hoping for a big card like a king and hoping to fade the club draw. I got the second part with a red 4. Maybe one of you guys should just shove all in? Come on! Do it! DO IT NOW! Sadly those turds checked and folded to my bet of $100. Maybe $75 would have been better?

Toward the end of my session I (perhaps) fucked one hand up in many ways. I got dealt 92 of diamonds in the big blind, the under the gun player made it $15 and after 4 callers I threw in $10 to call. This is a debatable call. On one hand 92 sucks. On the other it was suited, I was closing the action so I couldn't get blown off the hand, and seeing flops cheap when you're looking for creative spots to bluff makes sense. On the first hand 92 sucks. After thinking it over I this is one I should have dumped.

The flop came down Q T 8 with two spades and one diamond. There was a (smallish) bet of $35 and a call. I made a debatable, but not terrible call with my gutshot and backdoor flush draw. The turn was the ten of diamonds and I checked. "I just checked didn't I. What the fuck did I do that for? That is the best bluffing card in the deck and I checked it. Against these two goofs. These clowns should be staring at $150 thinking that they're going to have to call another $300 on the river to see the showdown. Instead I check like a damn fool! Why am I playing these garbage hands if I'm not going to bluff in the best spot ever?"

The guy who bet $35 on the flop checked and the other guy bet $75. I was really not sure what to do here. There was about $270 in the pot so I was getting OK odds to draw, but the board was paired so I might make my hand and still lose and I didn't think I could make a big river bet and get called if I hit one of my draws. I thought about making it $275 but I felt like to time to bluff had already been missed.

The river was the 6 of spades and I thought "Oh yeah! There was a front door spade draw out there! I could have that. I'll represent spades now!" This was not all that well thought out, but I went with it. I bet $160 which was probably a little lite. I didn't have too long to regret it as my opponent called me and showed me AQ of spades in about 1/10 of a second. Grrrr.

Back to the big hand! I had AQ with the A of hearts on a T 4 2 all heart board, and I shoved for $400 over a bet and a call of $130. They both went all in! Eeeek! My hopes of an A or a Q being any help were out the window. The turn was the 3 of spades and I thought a 5 might do the trick. The river was the 5 of hearts! SEND. THE. MOTHER FUCKING. POT. TO. ME. When that heart came out I flipped over that AQ so fast. It was so so so so sweet. Turns out I was up against 44 and AT with no hearts (the AT was the guy who bet $130.)

There was about $1,500 in that pot and I netted about $1,000 which is the biggest pot of project 10K by a wide margin. It erased my $6/$12 loss and gave me a big stack at a table where everyone had $500 or less. I didn't really take advantage of that advantage per se, but I still booked a good win on the night.

I ended up losing $224 at $6/$12 and winning $852 at $2/$3/$5 for a net total of $628 on the night. My starting bankroll of $10,000 is at $10,647 after 27 hours of play. Back in action Friday.

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...