Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Streak is Still Alive

I picked up another $750 over about 3,000 hands today. That makes six straight winning days! I'm not quite sure what my record is in terms of most winning days in a row. I think it's 9 or 10. I know I've done 8 a few times and my best run in terms of winning days with one miss was 14 out of 15 when I was proping at the Oaks. Hopefully I can keep playing well, running good and kicking ass!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Back on Track

After taking the first 5 days of the month off and losing my ass in the process I knew that I was going to have to put in a little extra effort for the rest of the month. In May, which turned out to be my best month of the year by a significant margin, I set the goal of playing 60,000 hands. As it turned out on May 31st I needed to play about 2,000 hands to make my goal. Not surprisingly I fell into a classic trap. I won on the 30th and when I woke up on the 31st I thought to myself "I'm going to Vegas tonight! I don't want to have a total collapse today and break the momentum I have going into the WSOP (total B.S.). I''ll just start my vacation early! YAY!"

58,000 poker hands in a month is nothing to sneeze at, and it's light years better than the 45,000 or so hands that I played in April. This month I'm going to try again to hit the 60,000 hand mark. So far I've knocked out 13,000 after working 4 full days and 1 half day in the 6 days that I've been back from Vegas. I'm going to have to step up the production a little to make it. My plan is to work a little harder than normal and play 3,500 hands a day 5 days a week instead of 2,500 a day 6 days a week which is what I might normally do. If I can do that every Monday through Thursday plus Saturdays for the rest of the month I'll end up with 62,000 hands.

One problem I have though, is when I'm doing well I have a tendency to take my foot off the gas. When I've got the money set aside for next months bills half way through the month and I find myself up $500 for the day it's hard to keep playing when I don't really feel like it. On the other hand when things haven't been going well, I really put my nose to the grindstone because I feel the pressure.

With that said, the good news (and the bad news for me hitting my goal) is I've been doing really well. (Prepare for the massive jinx) I've won all five days that I've played in June and while none of them have been four digit wins they've all been in the middle three digits. I've moved up from playing a mix of $1/$2 and $2/$4 blinds no limit cash games to three $2/$4 NL games and three $3/$6 NL games. I'm making about 18.5 cents per hand in the $3/$6 games and while it's really too early to draw any conclusions, I'm feeling confident that I can keep winning a solid amount at that level. The fluctuations have been much larger as you might expect, but so far I've been handling it well.

Also on Saturday I confirmed that I don't totally suck at tournaments. I finished 13th out of 780 in the $50,000 weekly supernova freeroll and picked up $525. I was 11 spots away from $4,000 and 12 spots away from $10,500, but $525 isn't exactly a pile of nickles.

Friday, June 08, 2007


When we last left our hero he was battling the forces of doom and it looked like he was down but not out! Actually we knew he would eventually be down and out, but we didn't know exactly how it would happen.

The night before the $1,500 limit event I was at the Paris with Jean and E.B. playing Pai Gow and trying to turn my luck around. Jake and Chrissy had just left for the airport and while I was having a good time I was worried about blowing even more money playing stupid casino games. I decided to let the gambling gods give me a sign! To this point I had ignored the signs from the gods which in huge neon lights the size of the Titanic all said "STOP GAMBLING!!!" While I was busy covering my eyes to avoid reading those signs I was also repeatedly thinking the mantra of all losing gamblers, "It has to turn around sometime!"

But now I was looking for a real sign. Instead if betting $25 on one hand I went to $50 on each of two hands. I decided if I won both hands, I'd finish my drink, order a shot of whiskey and take one last gasping, hacking, coughing attempt at winning back some of my money. If I lost both, I'd call it a night and leave with whatever money (and dignity) I had left. I got one terrible hand, and one OK hand, but they both got squashed by a monster hand from the dealer. Horsefeathers!

I made my way back to Harrah's and was in my room by 8 p.m. I had the thought that if my 21 year old self was there he slap me in the face, pour a bucket of ice down my pants, and give me an atomic wedgie. He'd say, "You're in Vegas, you fool! It's only 8 o'clock! Why aren't you out there gambling and drinking!" And I'd say, "But, I'm tired and I have a tournament tomorrow and..." SLAP! "You're not 77, you're 27! Now get out there and booze it up! You've got money in your pocket don't you? I never stopped gambling until I was on the plane back to California or I didn't have a penny left on me. Don't you know it has to turn around sometime?"

Anyway I woke up well rested and headed off to the Rio to play my 15th career WSOP event. When I sat down at my table, I noticed Rafe Furst who has 1 WSOP bracelet was sitting two spots to my left. I'd never played against him before and I hadn't seen him play on TV so I didn't really know what to expect, but it turns out that while I was there he was playing a very conservative style and didn't give me any trouble.

I got a fair number of playable hands early and ended up taking my stack from 3,000 up to about 5,000 sometime during the 3rd level. But by the end of the 4th level I was back down under 3,000. When we got back from our second break a little more than 4 and half hours after we started, I knew I would need to make some progress soon.

Around that time a new player got moved to our table. I got the vibe that he was a strong and accomplished player and it wasn't until I was leaving the tournament area later and picked up a bluff magazine that I figured out who he was. He was on the cover with 7 or 8 other players (Doyle Brunson, Jennifer Harmon, and Phil Ivey to name a few) with the headline "Players to Watch at this Years WSOP." It turns out it was Jeff Madsen who won two bracelets last year and in the process became the youngest player in WSOP history to win an event.

When Madsen sat down he said hello to Rafe Furst and within seconds they'd agreed to a $100 best two out of three rock, paper, scissors match. While the dealer was shuffling, bang, bang, bang they knocked out three rounds and a $100 bill came flying across the table to Rafe. I find it interesting to be around people who bet three digit amounts on stupid shit like rock, paper, scissors. Doing that kind of thing has never appealed me, but I find it interesting none the less.

It turns out that the tournaments were maybe the least interesting part of the trip from a blogging standpoint. I had a few hands go against me in unspectacular fashion and I was out. I didn't feel bad about it, because I knew that I had played my best. Not just pretty good, or OK, but my actual best. I was focused, I wasn't the least bit nervous and I felt almost positive that every move I made was the right one given the circumstances. It just didn't work out. For better or for worse, that's poker.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

WSOP Recap (and massive complaining)

First of all, thanks to Jen for the updates that she posted to the blog. Not surprisingly I wasn't in the mood to rehash the details of my defeats right after they happened.

If I had to sum up my trip to Vegas in one brief phrase it would be: IT SUCKED! In the past 6 years I've made roughly 15 trips to Vegas, 10 gambling trips to Reno or Lake Tahoe, and 2 trips to Atlantic City. I have NEVER had worse luck. I've had trips where I lost more money on the whole, but I've never lost so much betting so little.

When it comes to gambling on stupid casino games I am a realist. I know in the long run I am going to lose. In fact I can probably tell you more about the math of exactly how much I can expect to lose over a given period of time with a given bet size than anyone you know. I've decided the entertainment value is worth more than cost, but man I have never had a trip where I've been so universally screwed. Not once in the 5 days that I was in Vegas did I leave any table with more than I started with. No matter how bad things are going, you should run into a little streak of good or even average luck somewhere.

I'll try not to bore you too much with the details, but I will point out a few of the low lights. The game of choice for our group is Pai Gow Poker. I won't explain too much about it, but the important point is you're playing against the dealer and it's a very slow game (speed is your enemy in the casino) with a small house edge. In this game 28.61% of the hands the player will win, 29.91% of the hands the house will win and 41.48% of the hands will be a push (or a tie) and no money changes hands.

When we made it to our hotel (The MGM) around midnight my good friend Chrissy and I immediately sat down at the Pai Gow table each with $500 and each betting $25 a hand. By 2:30 we were both down to the felt. At a Pai Gow table you get dealt 25-30 hands an hour so at most we saw 75 hands. If you played an infinite number of groups of 75 hands on average you'd lose 1.84 betting units. Yet somehow we managed to both lose 20 betting units (well over 10 times the expectation) in that time (it's not surprising that we shared the same fate since while we each have our own hand we're both playing against the same dealer hand). This was pretty extraordinary.

I lost $300 playing at a $5 craps table in about 45 minutes. Enough said.

In another Pai Gow session at The Mandalay Bay I sat down and immediately lost 6 hands in a row with no wins and no ties. The chance of losing 6 in a row like that are 1 in 1397.

Now that I've got that out of the way I can talk about the poker aspect of the trip. I got to Vegas late Thursday and my plan was to head to the Rio on Friday to sign up for my first tournament which wouldn't start until Saturday at noon. I knew from past experience that the line to register for tournaments is crazy in the hour or two before the event and I wanted to bypass that entirely.

After that my plan was to head to Treasure Island to meet with the folks from pokerstars. Since I paid for one of my entries with FPP's I had to sign a contract and pick up a load of Pokerstars gear which I was supposed to wear during the tournament. In order to ensure that I did what they wanted, pokerstars only gave me 85% of my buy in initially and once I proved that I actually played or was going to play in the event (by showing them by nonrefundable tournament entry card with my name and the event # on it) they gave me the rest.

Unfortunately when I made it to the Rio, I discovered a line so long that looked like they were holding American Idol auditions inside. Some people were sitting in chairs that they'd found someplace which to me meant that not only was the line crazy long, but it was also slow. The slowness made no sense to me since last year the longest I had to wait to sign up for an event was about 20 minutes and even then the line was moving quickly. I decided that my best bet was to wait until the middle of the night or early the next morning and come back. I had my fingers crossed that there was some reason other than massive incompetence for the delay and whatever it was would get resolved quickly.

So I went on with my general misfortune had a bunch of drinks and went to sleep by midnight. At 3:30, POW! I was wide awake. So I decided to head over to the Rio, sort out my business and then head back to the MGM for some more sleep. When I got there I saw that while the line was shorter, it was still fairly substantial. I went to the front of the line and asked one of the guys standing there how long he'd been in line. Immediately a half dozen people chimed in, said that it had been three hours and talked about how pissed they all were. To make it worse one of registration windows had just closed leaving only 4 left, meaning it could take even longer to make it through the line. If it had been my first year at the WSOP I would have manned up and waited, but for my 14th career event it wasn't worth it.

The next day (Saturday) I decided I would just have to brave the line and sign up. While the rest of the gang went to dinner I headed off to the Rio to wait for hours in a slow moving line. When I walked in the door and looked down the loooooong hallway to where the end of the line should have been I didn't see anything. So far so good. I turned a corner and still didn't see anything. Great! Then I walked into the tournament area and right up to the cage where there were THREE OPEN WINDOWS with people waiting to sign me up! It was like a Christmas miracle. After planning on skipping dinner I made it back to The Mandalay Bay where I'd just been 20 minutes earlier and sat down at dinner before anyone had even ordered.

I'd had a couple of snifters of Grand Mariner starting about 3 in the afternoon so after dinner I was ready to call it a night. We all made it back to the MGM and while most of the group hit the tables I watched a movie in my room by 10 p.m and asleep a little after midnight.

The next day I got up started my parade of visiting 5 hotels in 7 hours, 4 of them with my luggage in tow. I left the MGM (#1) a little before 11 (While waiting in the cab line I did see a guy who I can only assume was crazy rich or who just won a ton of money or both get into the back of a shiny new Maybach and tip the bell hop $100 for putting his two bags in the trunk). I made a brief stop at The Treasure Island (#2) to meet with the pokerstars people who gave me a very nice set of two shirts, a hat and a jacket which went directly into my suitcase where they remain at this very moment. I got a splash of VIP treatment when one of the people in the makeshift office told me that because I was a P0kerstars Supernova if I wanted to eat at a particular restaurant in the Rio anytime during the WSOP they she would make reservations for me or if I was in a hurry I could call her ahead of time and she'd order me whatever I wanted ahead of time.

Then I hauled my ass (and my suitcase) over to the Rio (#3) where I dropped my stuff off in my friend Matt's room. The I actually played in a poker tournament. Crazy I know. Interestingly enough the poker tournament was totally uninteresting. I think Jen did a nice job of summing it up. I was at a great table with a bunch of week players for about 2 hours where I ran my stack up to about 5,000 after starting with 3,000. Then I got moved to a new table with better players and ran into two tough spots.

On the first hand that led to my demise I had 4,500 chips with blinds of 75/150. Two players called the 150 chip big blind, I looked down at KK and raised to 600. To my surprise the first player who just called the big blind reraised all in to 1,800. Of course I called and was not please to see that my opponent had the only hand I was worried about - AA. I lost that hand and was back under where I started.

I dribbled away chips for a while and found myself with about 1,500 on the button with blinds of 100/200 when the following hand came up. The first player to act, who was probably the worst at the table made it 600 to go. The next player to act who was a very tight player immediately went all in for about 2,000. I could tell he really liked his hand, but when I looked down at QQ I knew I couldn't throw it away when I had a stack that was about 1/4th of average. The player in the small blind who had been left with around 300 chips after losing the previous hand called and after about 60 seconds of thought the original raiser also called. The small blind turned over 99, the original raiser turned over K-10 and sadly the other player turned over AA. When the flop came with three spades I was left with only one card in the deck that could make me the best hand. Unfortunately a 4th spade came out on the turn and the player with K-10 made a flush with the K of spades and took the whole pot.

I trudged over to the tournament registration area, signed up for the next day's tournament and after getting my bags from Matt's room I left the Rio. After waiting in yet another cab line I headed to Harrah's (#4) and checked in to the room I'd be staying in for the next two nights. After a quick turn around I made about a 10 minute walk over to the Paris (#5) to play some more Pai Gow with my friends.

I'll pick up here in my next post (this one is getting crazy long!) which should be coming in two or three days (I'm very busy tomorrow).

Monday, June 04, 2007

Bad News

Well, Dave got eliminated. I didn't hear any of the story because I was at the grocery store when he called. He changed his flight to come home tonight instead of tomorrow, so he'll probably be telling you all about his trip tomorrow morning.


Dave just called in on his second break. Over the last two hours he's built his stack up from $2800 to $2825. Ha! When they go back after the break they'll be playing $200/$400 so he's starting to get a little short stacked, but is still just one hand away from being comfortable. He says he hasn't had a decent hand in an hour, so if he can just get one or two good hands things should start to turn around.

Poker Pages posted the payout structure, here it is:


The next break will be the dinner break, and that will be around 6:45 or 7. Hopefully we don't hear anything until then!

Event 06 - $1,500 Limit Hold'em

I just got off the phone with Dave, who is on the first break of today's event, Limit Hold 'Em, which started with 910 players. Limit moves a lot slower than No Limit, so not too much has happened so far. He started with $3000 in chips and now has about $2800. When he gets back from break the limits will be $100/$200.

Here are the live update links:

Card Player
Poker Pages

He says he likes his table a lot, and is playing with Rafe Furst, who he says is a nice guy.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I just got a call from Dave saying he got eliminated. I only got the short story, which was that he lost half his chips with KK against AA, and then the rest with QQ against AA. Yuck! I'm sure he'll have more to tell you about it later.

Event 04 - $1,500 Pot Limit Hold’em

Dave successfully got registered in today's event which started at noon (PST).

According to cardplayer.com there were about 900 entrants, which is a little smaller than last year. Dave just gave me a call on his first break saying they started out with 3,000 in chips and he had gotten up to around 5,000 but has since slipped back to around 3,500. All in all, he says things are going well and he'll update me again in a few hours.

Here are some sites with live updates of the action:
Card Player
Poker Pages

They usually talk about big hands between famous players and will give you some updates on how the limits are going up and about how many people are left. At some point they should post what the prize structure will be which will tell us how many people they need to play to before ending the day.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

First Tournament - Cancelled

Hello, this is Jen!

Dave wanted me to put a post up to let you know that he ended up not playing in today's event. He went to the Rio yesterday to sign up and apparently the line to register was hours long and not moving at all. He decided he would rather just get this morning around 8 and sign up then. He woke up this morning feeling awake at 4 for no particular reason, so he headed back over to the Rio planning on signing up and then coming back to the MGM for a few more hours of sleep before the tournament. When he got there he found out the wait would be 3-4 hours. Wisely he decided that he would not be playing his best poker after getting so little sleep and standing in line all night long, so he is skipping today's event. He's hoping they can work out whatever bugs they're having and he's going to return this evening or early tomorrow to sign up for the next event.

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...