Monday, May 19, 2008

A Solid Day

I booked a nice win today playing nothing but $10/$20 games. After a string of minescule or moderate wins and losses it felt great to make some real money.

My plan was to play enough to earn 5,000 points today and each of the next 3 days. Of course since I've had precicely zero days so far this year where I've earned that many points I don't know why I thought it would be no problem. I woke up early (about 8 - super early for me) and managed to knock out 2,000 points winning $600 before having a late breakfast around noon. So far so good.

When I came back all hell broke loose. In my first 100 hands I was up $900 more and by the time I hit 250 hands (about a half an hour of play), I'd made $2,300 post breakfast and was up $3,000 for the day! During that stretch I'd won 26 of 31 hands that had gone to the showdown and won 31 pots without showdown. Par for the course is winning about 50%-55% of pots at showdown and one in every ten or so without showdown so I was clearly running really hot.

Then I had a big reversal. I dropped about $1,300 in 150 hands winning only 2 of 15 pots at showdown. I decided to take a short break, make some tea and then get back to business. I made a little progress and ended up taking lunch winning about $1,900.

Around 5:30 I was about 1,000 points short of my 5,000 point goal for the day, but I found myself ahead $2,300 so I decided to quit. I probably should have kept playing, but if I'd given back most or even just a big chunk of that money I wouldn't have been able to sit down tomorrow with the positive attitude that I expect to have.

My goal now is to earn 14,000 points in the next three days. That will put me at 380,000 for the year and since my wife Jen and I are making an overnight trip to Napa on Friday and Saturday, I need to earn some major points. Even with that once I come back I'm going to have to earn 40,000 in 10 days in order to hit my 420,000 goal before I head to Vegas. I don't know why I'm talking to you people I need to get to work!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May So Far

May has been an unusual month for me. I was in Maryland where I grew up for my good friend Brian Ridgeway's wedding from the 5th to the 12th so I've fallen a little behind in my point production. While I was there, however I discovered that a good chunk of the Ridgeway clan as well as some of my friends from high school have been reading this blog. I like readers!

Here I was thinking that Tom from the census (Hey Tom), my sister, and sister in law were the only ones reading this blog. But it turns out that there are other people out their neglecting their work duties and/or families to read virtual nonsense about FPPs, massive quantities of complaining about bad luck, and stories about people who may or may not be Ben Affleck. What's wrong with you people?

Anyway in the 5 days since my return from MD I've had some general frustration, but I've also had money flying into my pockets from strange sources. As far as the general frustration goes here's the story. In my five days of play I've been ahead at least $1,000 every day, but haven't had any four digit wins. In fact I've had three roughly break even days, one -$1,500 day and a +$700 day. I feel like someone is slipping kryptonite under my chair every day at noon everyday. I could be worse and I have been racking up the FPPs so it hasn't been a total waste of time.

Now on to the money coming to me in weird ways. Here are two e-mails I got this week from Pokerstars:

PokerStars has become aware of two players who were in violation of
our poker room rules. You were involved in one or more hands with
these players. Based on a rollback of hands in which you may have
been harmed, your account has been credited $70.00.

Due to our privacy policy we are not at liberty identify the specific
games or players in question. After careful review we have
permanently closed the accounts in question. In addition we have
implemented measures to prevent these individuals from playing on the
site using any other account.

Here's the second one:


In recognition of the inconvenience you have suffered with the delay in receiving your eCheck cashout we have credited your account with a bonus of 20% of the requested cashout amount. This amounts to a credit of $400.00 for your $2000.00 eCheck cashout requested on 04-May-08. This credit can be found in your PokerStars Cashier History as "eCheck compensation".

Score! The first e-mail had a subject line of "account credit" and I was hoping that would be more than $70, but the second one was totally out of left field. Pokerstars has the best F-ing customer service in the universe. With any other company you'd hear "we're really sorry" but they'd never do anything to make it up to you. If they'd given me $100 I would have thought it was about $80 more than I deserved so this was a very nice surprise.

Lastly and most significantly on the weird extra money front I won $1,900 from my good friend E.B. I'm sure you're wondering under what circumstances I could have possibly won so much money from him. I don't want to go into the exact details, but let's just say that I bet him that he wouldn't do something stupid and the stupider he got the more he owed me. I feel a little bad about it, but he won $900 from me in a weight loss bet that we made a few years ago and I'm pretty sure he's gotten me for a few hundred in $20 bets over the years so I don't feel too bad about it.

Since I've taken so much time off this month (I've only worked 7 days - Yikes!)and I'm going to be taking a 8 days off to go to Vegas, I have some serious catching up to do. Right now I'm at 361,500 points for the year and I'm hoping to make it to 420,000 (the point at which my $4,000 milestone bonus will actually be availible for me to cashout) before I leave for Vegas on June 4th. 60,000 points in 17 days is going to take a man sized effort, but I think I'm up to the challenge. I'll try to keep you posted.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

WSOP 2008 Preview!

There are a record 55 events over the course of 7 weeks at this years WSOP starting on May 31st. My first glance at the schedule made me feel like I wanted to play about 40 of those events. The vast majority have buys ins between $1,000 and $3,000 which is right in the range that I wanted to target this year and of course most of those are some form of hold 'em.

After many hours over the course of several day of staring at the schedule, looking through my casino offers for room deals, calling to check actual rates at a half dozen casinos, and looking at the prices of flights, I finally came up with a plan! The flights and the rooms are booked now and I'll be in Vegas from June 4th to June 11th. I'm staying at the Rio the first two nights, the Bellagio (Yeah Baby!)the next two, and the Paris for the last three. In my opinion the Bellagio is the nicest casino on the strip and I'm fired up to be staying there.

I'm planning to play in 5 WSOP events this year (#'s 16-20 of my career). Here's my schedule:

June 4th $2,000 NL Hold 'em
June 5th $1,500 NL Hold 'em 6-handed
June 6th Nothing
June 7th $2,500 NL Hold 'em
June 8th Nothing
June 9th $1,500 NL Hold 'em Shootout
June 10th $2,000 Limit Hold 'em

If I get bounced early or if I feel like playing on the 6th or the 8th I'm going to try to catch a few of the other local tournaments that go off every hour around the clock in Vegas. In fact I have my eye on a $1,060 event at the Venetian on the 8th, but I might be ready for a day off by then. I plan on posting daily giving recaps of my tournaments for my fan(s) (Hey Tom) as well as my backers so when June rolls around look for daily updates.

In other news I extended my streak of losing days over $1,200 to six before I got things turned around. That sure sucked! I two nice winning sessions to close the month and ended up winning over $10,000 for April which I find amazing since it felt like I got my ass kicked forever. It didn't hurt that I cleared the $3,000 milestone bonus at the end of the month.

In terms of my year end point goals I ended April with 329,000 points which is only 1,600 points (a little less than 3 hours) short of being on pace for the year. At the start of the year I gave myself about a 50% chance of making it to 1,000,000 points by the end of the year. I'd now give it a 98% chance. Nothing short of a major illness is going to stop me.

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!

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...