Friday, April 25, 2008

Reversal of Fortune

In the past four days I gotten my ass kicked to a spectacular degree. On Tuesday I woke up and lost $5,500 in one hour. Think about that the next time you feel like you're having a bad morning! Having that happen to you makes you wish that you slept in a little longer, had an extra long breakfast, or even had some horrible virus that kept you in bed all day. I got about $900 of that back later in the day, but by a small margin it was still my worst day ever.

The next day I vowed to not play any $30/$60 which was where I lost the vast majority of that money. I stuck with the $10/$20 and $15/$30 games which I've dominated for the past two months and still got my ass kicked. I lost just over $3,000 in about 5 hours of play.

Thursday I decided to take the day off. I watched a few movies. I played with my son. I went out and shot some hoops. All in all it was a very nice day.'

Today I sat down hoping to book any kind of win. I was down $500 in about the first 3 minutes and I stayed stuck all day. I ended up losing about $1,200.

I'm in the midst of one of those stretches where my opponents are just getting whatever it is that they need to beat me. I'm not getting out played and I'm not playing badly, I'm just getting nailed time after time by bad turns and bad rivers. It's part of the game and I can accept it, but losing enough money in four days to pay our rent for four months is no fun.

Amazingly there is good news. I was doing so well before, that I'm still winning $8,000 this month. That's a great month and I'm trying to think long term, but it's not easy when so much money has just evaporated.

I'm planning on playing a little tomorrow (maybe 1,000 hands or so) and I'm hoping I can pick up something like a $500 win just to break my streak of bad days.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves!

Lately I have been beating down my competition. The day after my last post I had a very nice result in the supernova freeroll. I had plans to go see some friends for lunch as soon as I was done with the tournament which started at 11:00. The previous week I'd been bounced in the first 15 minutes and without a few good hands I knew I wouldn't make much past 12:30. Try as I might I just couldn't go broke. I wasn't throwing my chips in there with nothing, but if I had any choice at all I was taking the more aggressive riskier option.

Once we got down to about 50 players and I was in 3rd chip position I started to take it seriously. I felt sure that I was going to go broke around 20th place, make something like $150 and be pissed that I'd kept everyone waiting all day for a small win. Instead I made the final table and we ended up splitting the top prizes 4 ways. My share was $4,240!!! I ended up having dinner with my friends instead or lunch and the food tasted quite a bit better than normal with an extra four grand on my balance sheet.

Despite my tournament success, I've pretty much stopped doing anything poker related that's not 6 handed cash games. One reason why is I've been totally dominating. I've had 6 days in April where I've won more than $2,000!

Of course my recent success hasn't been without some major swings. At the point of my last writing I was dipping my toe in the $30/$60 pool. Well I'm now in the pool up to my knees. I've been playing a little every day and getting used to the higher stakes. I've won $1,145 in about 1,600 hands which sounds great, but when you consider that in the six sessions I've played at that limit this month I've had two -$2,000 sessions, a +3,000 session and a +$2,000 session none of which lasted longer than an hour $1,145 doesn't seem like much.

I've also played about 500 hands of $50/$100. To give you an idea of how big that game is if you just call before the flop, call on the flop, call on the turn and call on the river you've put $300 into the pot. If you have just one raise on each betting round (which is probably more common than no raising at all) you've put $600 in the pot on one hand! It's not insane to think that every now and then I will personally end up putting $1,000 into a single pot. Another way to think about it is just stealing the blinds and winning the smallest possible pot is still a $75 profit.

The first time I played $50/$100 (recently - I've actually played as big as $100/$200, but it's been a while and that was in person) I got my ass kicked. I was looking through the higher limit games to see who was playing (I do this all the time to keep a mental list of all the regular big game players are so just in case they decide to drop down a level or two I can avoid them) and I noticed a VERY weak player who I'd been playing with at $15/$30 for much of the day. There was an open seat so I decided to jump in and take my chances.

I bought in for $5,000 which I thought would be more than I'd need, but would make it look like I belonged in a game that size. My initial thinking was if I won or lost $2,000 or decided the game was too tough that I'd get out. It turned out that other than the guy I'd targeted there was another guy who would be a losing player at any limit. Given that I only had 5 opponents and two totally sucked, It was a great game.

I hovered around even for a while and then quickly dropped to my -$2,000 limit. But like many players who move up and find themselves stuck a few grand I convinced myself to keep playing. After all it was a great game. When I only had $1,000 left in front of me I did the smart thing and got up...or not. I actually bought in for another $1,000 vowing (for real this time) that if I dropped my entire initial $5,000 buy in I'd call it quits.

I came pretty close to doing just that. At one point I was in a hand where if I'd lost I would have been down a little over $5,000 in that game. But, I had top set against two smaller sets and I ended up winning a $1,700 pot! That's a big ass pot. With great effort I crawled back to the point where I was only down $2,000 and jumped ship when two of the regular, solid $50/$100 players sat down.

At the same time as all that was happening I was having some difficulty in my other games and I ended up losing about $3,400 that day. Yuck! But guess what...I won $3,800 the very next day! HA!

Today I had some more big swings. I was ahead $1,500 before I had breakfast. Then I gave it all back between breakfast and lunch. Right after lunch my friend Matt came over and I lost about $2,000 while he was here (he had 30% of the action so I actually only lost $1,400 and he lost $600). I was feeling a little pissed that I'd been ahead $1,500 a few hours earlier and now I was down about that much and Matt was out $600.

But I made a very nice comeback. When Matt left I took a short break and when I came back I won $1,700 in the first 50 hands which took a grand total of about 6 minutes! I ended up putting a few more bucks on that win and finished the day with a healthy $1,300 profit.

Points wise I've also been doing well. I've earned 48,000 points so far exactly halfway through April and I'm at 276,000 for the year. I need to be at 333,000 by the end of the month to be on pace for the year. I might come up a little short of that target, but since my point production has gone up as a result of playing bigger games I should be on or ahead of pace sometime in May or June.

Finally, let me say thank you to Tom and Kristen for giving me heat (always through messengers of course) about not posting. It makes me feel like there are people out there enjoying my blog and I like the notion that I have a nice running record of all of the major events in my career.

Friday, March 21, 2008

20% of the way there (plus great news!)

Today was day 81 of 366 this year meaning we're 22.13% of the way through the year. So far I've earned 205,242 points of the 1,000,000 I'll need to hit my year end goals which means I'm 20.52% of the way there. So far the year has gone better that I'd hoped it would. Since my last post I've played every day and won 7 of those 8 days with the loss being a very moderate $506 loss (6 of my 7 wins were larger than my one loss).

Also I came across what can only be described and fantastic news. I just crossed the 200,000 point mark this week which entitled me to a $2,000 bonus. I knew I had to jump through a hoop or two to get my bonus and I wanted to check the website for exact details (I have to give them some FPPs and earn 10,000 points within 120 days - no big deal). While browsing through the info about the VIP club I saw that they had changed the milestones required to earn similar bonuses as well and the corresponding rewards.

Last year when a player reached 200,000 points they got $2,000. At 300,000 they picked up another $3,000. At 500,000 points it was another $5,000 and at 750,000 points they got another $7,500. If someone played enough to earn all of those bonuses they'd earn $17,500. Pretty amazing right?

Well recently they changed the milestones to 200,000, 300,000, 400,000, 500,000 600,000 and 800,000 with bonuses of $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $6,000 and $8,000!!! This means that if everything goes according to plan (which I'd say there's a 95% chance of now) I'll pick up $28,000 in bonus cash instead of $17,500! SWEET!

Of course there's still the MEGA year end bonus which is my main focus, but finding out I'm going to get paid an extra $10,500 for something I was going to do anyway is pretty amazing.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Progress Update

It's been a few weeks since my last post and during that time I've had some substantial ups and downs including my worst day ever! YUCK!

After my last post I ran off a few small, but not insignificant wins and then had a day where I got totally rocked. I started the day ahead over $1,000 and then fell like a safe thrown from the roof of a skyscraper. In the span of about 6 hours I went from up $1,000 to losing $5,000! That's -$16.67 a minute for 6 hours! Of course that's what can happen playing two $10/$20 games and two $15/$30 games at once. Amazingly I feel like I played just fine, but I just had an insanely bad run of cards.

The bit of good news was I cashed in 100,000 FPPs that day for $1,500 and won close to $1,000 in a $530 multitable to finish it off so while it was still a terrible day it went down in the books as very, very bad instead of an epic disaster.

While you might think that was the worst day ever (it was certainly the worst 6 hours of my professional life) that I alluded to above, you'd be wrong! 9 days later I lost about $4,500 with nothing to cushion the blow. My previous worst was way back in 2006 and came playing four $5/$10 blinds no limit cash games (Those are $1,000 buy in games). During that session I lost THREE pots that had over $2,000 in them in the span of about 15 minutes. I ended up losing just over $4,000 on that day and have been lucky enough to not have any days worse than that since until recently.

So what does this all mean? I must be close to broke right? WRONG! Despite those two awful days I'm still doing really well for the year. In the 62 days that I've played so far this year I've had 41 winning days and 21 losing days. More importantly I've had 17 days where I've won more than $1,000 and only 6 where I've lost more than $1,000. Despite the 6 hours of doom, February was the second best month I've had in the past 24 months and even though I had my worst day ever in March and it's only two weeks into the month I'm still having a solid winning month!

My point production is still behind where I want it to be, but I'm cautiously optimistic about the coming months. So far I've earned about 165,000 of the 1,000,000 points I need for my Mega year end bonus. I expect to be in the 210,000-215,000 range by the end of march and have plans for an insane working month in April which could put me almost back on pace. By the end of April I'll need to be at 333,000 points to be right on track and I think I can make it to about 315,000 which isn't that far off.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Testing the Waters

Last week was by far my best week of the year. Actually it was my best week since October of 2007 and if you cut that one out, you have to go all the way back to early 2006 to find a better 7 day stretch.

More important than the money I made was the fact that how I made it is very reproducible. I'm not saying that I'm going to run off $2,000 days a few times a week for the rest of the year, but winning day after day speaks more to future potential than having one big tournament win.

One of the nice things for me about playing after going on a nice run is not worrying about taking a significant loss. While I always sit down planning on and expecting to win, it's impossible to not let thoughts and fear of a big loss creep into my head from time to time. But when I've seen my account balance skyrocket in the previous few days I haven't really grown attached to that money yet. I rarely if ever get out of line with the risks I take, but If I get killed one day I can look back at where my balance was a few days earlier and still feel good about where I stand.

With all of that in mind, I've been testing the waters in the bigger 6-handed limit cash games. I've pretty much cut out playing the $5/$10 games and have instead gone to either all $10/$20 games or a mix of $10/$20 and $15/$30 games.

I've even dipped my little toe into the $30/$60 pool (I've played about 150 hands total in the past 3 days). $30/$60 is no joke. The average pot in a $30/$60 game is in the $300-$400 range and $1,000 pots are not completely uncommon.

The past two days I've had really nice results playing $30/$60 in small bursts. While that short of a span tells me next to nothing about what I could expect playing in the long term, it's still nice to win.

Yesterday I started off crazy hot in my normal games and was ahead over $2,000 before noon. Then I went totally down the toilet and found myself losing $1,000 towards the end of my day. Luckily I made a little surge at the end which included a $500 boost from a few made hands in the $30/$60 and ended up winning about $200 for the day.

Today I experienced similar but less drastic swing. I was up about $1,000 early then gave it all back plus some. Once again I made a late inning surge with a $500+ win in less than 20 hands of $30/$60 (I play about 500 hands and hour so 20 hands takes less time than a bathroom break).

The key hand was my second hand at the table (I was in a few other games and only playing one $30/$60). I picked up 44 in the small blind and when the button raised to $60 I reraised to $90. The big blind folded and the flop came down 9 4 2 giving me a set. I bet, my opponent raised and I made it three bets. At this point there was $390 in the pot, the turn came a ten and I bet out $60. My opponent quickly raised to $120, I made it $180, and he called.

Now there was $750 in the pot and while I was 98% sure I had the best hand, my heart was certainly beating a little faster than normal. The the river brought a Q, I bet $60 and got raised. ACK! I was worried that my opponent might have QQ, but I certainly couldn't fold for another $60 with $930 sitting out there in the pot. I called, my opponent showed QT and I took down a very nice pot.

In the coming days I expect to say in the $10/$20 games, but it's fun to push it a little and I can certainly see myself pushing the envelope a little in the near future.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Week To Remember

The past five days have been amazing. Not only have I not had a losing day, my worst day was an $800 win!!! I have been KILLING the $10/$20 games. This is great news not just because of the money I've been making, but it means I'll be able to earn points at a much faster rate.

Along those lines I've just crossed the 100,000 point mark for the year. This is the point at which you earn regular supernova status for the rest of the year. In 2006 the first year that pokerstars started their current rewards program it took me until the middle of June to earn 100,000 points. In 2007 it took until the middle of April.

Even though I've drastically improved my point generation over previous years I'm still behind pace. In order to be on pace I should have crossed the 100,000 point mark on February 7th and be at 123,000 points today. However, I'm not worried. While I can earn 1.05 points per hand on average playing $5/$10 games, I can earn about 1.4 points per hand playing $10/$20 games. While I haven't switched entirely to the larger games, a mix of two smaller and two larger games has been what's been producing my major success and about 1.25 points per hand on average.

Something interesting happened to me on Wednesday. I found myself up about $1,000 when I stopped for lunch and when I came back I browsed through the big games to see if anyone I knew was taking a shot at the big bucks. I didn't see any of my regular opponents, but in a 6 handed $50/$100 game I did see Money800 who I happen to know is 2003 WSOP main even winner Chris Moneymaker and a guy named AffleckKGB who I thought might be Ben Affleck. I happen to know that Ben Affleck is a very serious poker player, this guy was from Irvine (which is near Hollywood) and I don't know who would want to have a name like AffeckKGB with a picture of Ben Affleck other than Ben Affleck.

Anyway being so far ahead and given the chance to play against a former world Champion and a potential celebrity made it seem like I should sit down. There was one seat so I bought in for $2,000 and waited to get dealt in. On my first hand I was dealt AA in the big blind! "I am a fucking genius!" I thought to myself.

Someone raised and I three bet. The flop came K 2 4. I bet, got raised and three bet it. The turn was a 3, I bet got raised and just called. I was hoping I was up against a hand like KQ, but even though I liked my hand I still felt nervous. On the river (which was a J) I check called and my opponent showed A5 for a wheel. "FUCK! I AM AN IDIOT" I thought. That was a quick $600 out the window.

In full on moron mode now, I decided to play a few more rounds and actually got about half of that $600 back. Even more amazingly I kicked even more ass in my normal games and ended up winning a little more than $2,100 on the day.

If I can manage anything even remotely close to this level of success for anything longer than the short term, life is going to get a lot nicer in the Huff household.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Take That You Bastards!

Last weekend Jen and I left our son Peyton with one one his Grandmas and his Aunt Kristen while we spent a night in Napa wine tasting with our friends. We have a much longer trip (4 days, Peyton is coming on this one) to Lake Tahoe at the end of March in our plans. There were 45 days between these trips and I've set myself a few goals for this time period.

The main goal is to earn 140,000 points. This will put me at 225,000 points, a quarter of the way through the year. While I'd love to be on pace and at 250,000 points, I looked at the numbers and came up with a reasonable goal. The plan has always been to shift to higher limit games which generate more points as the year goes on so in a way being 22.5% of the way there 25% of the way through the year is on pace.

Of course it's critical that I at least break even during this stretch. At best I'm hopeing for 10 cents a hand which would net me $14,000 on top of the points and bonuses which are my main focus.

Another minor goal I have for myself during this stretch is to lose 10 pounds. Our cabin in Tahoe has a hot tub and I don't want to look like a tub myself when I'm sitting in it. I could see myself blowing this goal off, but I feel like any effort I make on this front won't be a waste and if I make any progress at all I'll be happy.

Mentally I set these goals for myself when I was cruising around in a limo, drinking fine wine, and enjoying life with my wife and good friends in Napa. On Monday I started implementing my plan and kicked off this project with a major bang.

On the first day of my new set of goals, I knocked out 4,200 points and I won a staggering $1,800. I played a mix of two $5/$10 games and two $10/$20 games and amazingly I killed the latter and struggled in the former. In fact I managed to win a little over $2,200 in the bigger games while losing the difference in the smaller games. However it happened, it was a fantastic start.

Today I started with the mindset that if I took a loss it would be fine since I'd had such a great day the day before. Amazingly I had an even better day! While I managed slightly fewer points (about 3,800) I won 33% more money ending up winning $2,400 on the day which was my best day so far this year! About 90% of my win came via the $10/$20 games. I'm not sure what it is, but I seem to be having an easier time with the slightly better players.

I don't think I've ever had two back to back days where I won at least $1,800 playing cash games in my entire career. If I can manage anything close to this level of success on a regular basis, I'll be driving a new Mercedes and living in a big ass new house by the end of 2009!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

9 Day Mini Challlenge Recap

After setting the goals of earning 25,000 points, working out 5 times and making $1,000 (before factoring in points of course) I barely missed one goal, came up embarrassingly short on another and blew one out of the water.

Sadly the workouts didn't happen. I worked out the first day and did another half assed one a few days later, but for the most part I totally blew this aspect off.

I did a little better points wise earning about 22,000. This wasn't quite what I wanted, but I found myself feeling totally brain dead a few times during the 9 days and I just couldn't quite pull it out. It's amazing how mental fatigue can build up in a period of days when you're actively thinking hard all day for many days in a row.

Of course the most important goal was the dollars and I did MUCH better than I was expecting. After my strong start I continued playing well and winning. All in all I won about $3,300 which was a little more than I'd lost in January.

While normally breaking even for a professional player is a disaster, in this case it's my goal since I'll end up earning $96,000 in bonuses by years end if I can make it to 1,000,000 points.

Right now I'm at 85,000 and I'm quickly falling behind. But not so far that I can't make up the difference. I'll outline my next set of mid range goals in my next post. For now I'm going plan on knocking out 20,000 points between Monday and Saturday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Excellent Progress!

I'm 3 days into my 9 day 25,000 point, $1,000, 5 workout mini goal challenge. So far things have been going great. While I've only done one workout and I'm only just over 6,000 points (it's always been the plan to do most of the heavy lifting Monday through Friday) I'm ahead a little over $2,200! After my $1,000 day on Thursday in limited action I knocked out a full work day yesterday picking up $600 in the last hour after being about even all day.

Today was another $600 day (those never get old) and I had something happen in a hand that I've never seen before. I raised before the flop with QQ, the player on the button three bet and I capped the betting at four bets. The flop was Q 8 6. BINGO! I went from having the third best starting hand (out of 169 possibilities) to having the absolute best possible hand on the flop. I bet, my opponent raised, I three bet and he capped it. At this point I figured he had either AA, KK, 88 or 66. The turn was another 6. I checked, he bet, I raised, he three bet and I capped it. Normally I would worry a little bit about him having 66 here, but not enough to slow down. The river was another perfect card. It was the last 6! The way the hand played out I knew there was no way he had the 4th 6. I still thought there was about a 90% chance that he had AA so I decided to check and hope that he would all of a sudden become confused about what I might have and bet. To my delight he bet instantly when I checked. I raised and to my shock he three bet! I capped it and he called with KK.

It's rare that you see someone overplay their hand to such a spectacular degree and I'm about 90% sure that this is the first time I've ever been in a hand where it was capped on all 4 betting rounds. I'm 100% sure this is the first time I've ever seen any two people cap the turn and the river when neither of them had the total nuts.

Hopefully this good run continues. After 3 good days in a row I'm feeling much better about my chances of being able to see this thing through to the end of the year.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mental Reset

On Tuesday my good friend Matt Lessinger who is also a pro poker player came by to look over my shoulder for a few hours. The previous Tuesday we did the same thing and although the main purpose of that first visit was to get Matt's opinion on the moves I was making in my $5/$10 games, he said that the time we spent helped him "stop being such a pussy" at the tables.

On both occasions we split all of the action 50/50 and while we only took minor damage the first time, this Tuesday we got smoked. We lost about $800 which is a boat load considering we only played about 750 hands of $5/$10. I'd lost before he came over and I lost more after he left too. It was a shitty day.

So I decided to take Wednesday off to clear my head, rethink things and come up with some short term goals. On February 9th Jen and I are headed to Napa to do some wine tasting and spend the night in a bed and breakfast. I decided that would be a good short time period for which to set goals so I've set a couple for the next 9 days. I have a 3 part plan: 1) play 25,000 hands of $5/$10 (I'm putting the $10/$20 and above games on hold), 2) workout 5 times, 3) win $1,000.

The 25,000 hands will be a little challenging, but not grueling. As far as the workouts go, I'm hoping that the exercise will help me sleep better and keep my mind sharp. Plus after some MAJOR holiday binging which started at Thanksgiving and has stretched through the end of January I've put on a few pounds of pure fat. I figured the $1,000 would be the most difficult part, but I had a fabulous day today winning about $975. This was great timing for a strong win and I'm going to try hard to remind myself that breaking even over the next 8 days is a victory and not a minor defeat.

I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing as far as hitting my post mental reset goals.

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...