Sunday, June 28, 2009

Today Was One of Those Days

Today was one of those days. One of those days where everything that could possibly go wrong does. Played a bunch of not small tournaments - got killed. Played a few thousand hands in the cash games - got killed. It was one of my top five worst days ever.

I even played in a freeroll where the top two spots won a $5,000 tournament entry and finished 5th of 250+. In that one I lost a 180,000 chip pot 5 handed with 99 vs 77 all in preflop. The other players at the table all had about 50,000 (and weren't exactly studs) so I would have been all but guaranteed to win one of the two seats if I could have just won when I was an 82% favorite!

And I have to work all day for the next two days because I need to earn another 10,000 points this month to keep my supernova elite status.


Actually it's not really that bad. Today sucked, but I'm still ahead five figures since I got back from Vegas 11 days ago and my wife Jen said she's making chicken fingers and homemade macaroni and cheese tonight. I'm sure with that and a few big glasses of wine I'll feel just fine in a few hours.

But right now - AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Playing Bigger and Winning Bigger

Since I got back from the WSOP (and to some extent before I left), I've been playing for bigger stakes. My standard game for the past two years has been $10/$20 six handed limit hold'em playing 4 to 6 games at a time. Of course I've taken my shots at the bigger games playing as high as $100/$200. But until recently it's been sporadic and rare that I'd go above $15/$30.

This month is the first extended stretch of time that I've played $30/$60 regularly. Along with a mix smaller stakes games, I've been playing something like 500 hands of $30/$60 and 100 hands of $50/$100 on a daily basis. And I've been winning.

In fact I've been winning so much that today at one point I was losing $6,000 and I wasn't worried about it. I knew the games were in the range of OK to good so I kept playing, made a comeback and only lost about $2,500 on the day. I never thought a day would come where I could lose $2,500 and call it a moral victory.

6 handed $50/$100 is a pretty absurdly sized game. $2,000 pots are not unheard of and losing $5,000 in a session is a possibility every time you get dealt in. Of course I could be the one to drag one or two of those $2,000 pots or get the benefit of someone elses $5,000 (or $10,000) losing session. And that's why I'm playing.

I've discovered recently that one or two of the regulars at that level are not regulars because of their skill level. It's clearly just that they have the money and can afford to lose big. Targeting these players as well as unknown players or the ones who are moving up to take their shots has proven very profitable. Hopefully I can keep it up.

Tomorrow I'm going to mix in a few tournaments. Pokerstars is offering four times the normal points for playing in the "Sunday majors" so in addition to some big cash games I'll be playing some significant tournaments as well. Hopefully I have something interesting to write about after tomorrow!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Hodge Podge of WSOP Stories

I tend to focus on the results of the tournaments and the actual play of the hands in my posts, but I've had a few requests to give a little more color instead of being so black and white. So here are a few unrelated stories, observations and feelings I had at this years WSOP.

In the $2,500 6 handed no limit tournament I played against a guy who gave a new meaning to not caring about the money. Often people tell stories or say things at the poker table that are clearly total bullshit. Stuff like "yeah my cousin bet $100 on 15 at the roulette table and when it hit he let the whole $3,600 ride and hit 15 again!" I'm almost 100% sure this guy was telling the truth.

We were playing the day after game 2 of the NBA finals. He said he'd been at the game the night before and that one of the casinos got him tickets. Got him tickets and CHARTERED HIM A PRIVATE PLANE! They flew him from Vegas to the game and then back all for free! You might wonder what type of gambling you would have to do to earn comps like that. Well he was talking to one of his friends how he had $220,000 bet on the game (which he won) and $220,000 bet on the number of points scored in the second half (which lost because of a missed 3 point shot at the end of the game!). That would be a wash, but the bets were both $220,000 to win $200,000 (that's how the casinos make their money) so he lost $20,000 on the deal just because of the juice!

He was also talking to Antonio Esfandiari and it came out that this guy had lost $100,000 to Antonio playing backamond. He also wanted to make a $500,000 bet with Antonio on who would last longer in the tournament we were playing, but Antonio wouldn't do it because it was too much money. The guy said he'd come to Vegas intending on being there for two days and he'd been there for 3 weeks!

In other insane gambling news apparently Phil Ivey had a bet where he put up $2,000,000 to win $5,000,000 that he would win one of the 57 WSOP events this year. He won one of the tournaments and the first place prize money (which would be enough to change my life) was a drop in the bucket compared to his side bet. When he won his second event of this year he won another $8,000,000 in side bets! Winning these two tournaments netted him more than the main event championship!

One of the things that is great about poker is it attracts people from all walks of life. There's almost no where else where you'll see a 25 year old Asian guy with a bunch of dragon tattoos bullshitting with a white 60 year old cowboy and an African American middle aged stock broker like they're all old friends.

Of course sometimes you're forced by the circumstances to be around some real ass holes. I was at a table with one guy who's every movement seemed annoying. He was maybe 60ish and was listening to a discman. It seems like half of the players at the WSOP have an ipod these days, but I've never seen anyone with a discman. But the oddity of that was nothing compared to the fact that HE WAS WEARING A CAPE! A black cape that had the word "Prince" in two inch high blue letters written on the back. He was giving all the dealers a hard time which as an ex dealer bothers me a little and he was just loaded with sarcasm. I wanted to be like "Hey! Cape face! Why don't take your 1990's technology, and your 1,390's clothes and take a flight back to Transylvania you vampire looking shit head!"

Another group of players that bothers me is the super smug players who are 21 or 22 and think they are the best poker players who have ever been dealt a hand. They often come in little gaggles and smugly share their results while waiting in line to sign up for the day's tournament. They talk about how bad their opponents play and it always sounds like they've all won enough in the last two weeks to buy Fort Knox. But then it comes out that they are living in a house with 4 other dudes or they work as a waiter or an accountant or they do this or that. Then they smugly sit at the table trying to look like real bad asses with the sunglasses and the hats and the headphones (I'm not against those things since they all have their uses, but some people seem to be doing it just for the look).

This one fellow in particular was exceptional in the attempting to act like a great player, but couldn't play at all. He'd furrow his brow and stare quizzically at the board cards every time he'd get raised. This was in the $1,500 no limit and the other players weren't exactly super stars either. In fact some of them were as clear as glass. I wanted to scream at this kid "quit furrowing your brow and staring at the flop for 4 minutes before you fold your f-ing Q6! The flop is AK6 and some dude who has never bluffed in his life just moved all in on your ass! And take off those damn sunglasses! You could be behind a f-ing brick wall and I'd still know exactly what you have you clown!"

Actually despite the examples I mentioned above, most of the players at the WSOP were very pleasant to be around. Typically the more money you play for the classier your opposition will be. Since I started off 9 years ago playing against toothless dirtbags who were so stupid I wondered how they manged to put gas in their car so they could drive to the casino it's always nice to play against friendly, intelligent people.

I'll make an effort to make my main event experience a little more detailed in terms of the people, sights, smells and sounds as well as the cards.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back to the Grind...And the Merciless Beat Downs!

For 3 days I've been back to my normal routine of working from 10 am to 7 pm (with a few breaks) playing 6 handed limit cash games and a handful of tournaments.

On Thursday I picked up right where I left off. I was ahead $1,000 before I knew it and was thinking "This is easy!" In fact I was $2,000 to the good at one point, but then I had a bad run playing $30/$60 and gave it all back plus another $1,300.

This is the first time in a few months that I've been super pissed at the end of my work day. To be perfectly honest I went on tilt and started playing bad once things started heading south. I was upset that I'd let myself get out of control and upset that I'd been winning all damn day and in the last hour let a good day get away from me.

But the next day I rectified things in a hurry. I was browsing the various games and found a $50/$100 game that was going four handed with two players who are regular substantial losers. I took the seat just to the left of both of them, made some big hands and won $1,700 in about 20 minutes! That was the complete end of any negative feelings I'd had about the day before and I went on to pick up another $700 over the course of my work day.

That was nice, but today is when I really laid the smack down! The $10/$20 games today were terrible (they were loaded with regulars and pros). I have no doubt it was the worst collection of games at those stakes I've ever seen on a weekend day. But the $15/$30 and $30/$60 games were pretty good. So that's what I played and things went really well.

At one point a game I was in broke and I needed to find a new game to replace it. I saw someone whose name I didn't recognize sitting alone with $1,200 at a 30/60. When I opened the table and saw that he was a silverstar player, I instantly sat down. I got his entire $1,200 stack in 7 minutes!

I won about $3,800 in the cash games today, but that's not all! I also had a nice finish in a 36 player, $215 buy in 8-game mixed tournament (it's the five HORSE games, plus triple draw lowball, no limit hold'em and pot limit Omaha).

When we'd been playing for a few hours I benefited from getting put at a table with a player who had no clue. I don't know what he was thinking playing in this tournament, but clearly he was out of his element. The first hand of razz (7 card stud where the lowest hand wins) he played it as if he thought the highest hand would win. On 4th street he was showing a king and a queen and raising two players who both hand two cards under 6 showing! Eventually he figured out what was going on when a hand with 7 cards below jack won the pot!

He also had some trouble with the triple draw and I was fortunate enough to take a huge pot off him playing that game. In triple draw every player is dealt 5 cards and the goal is to make the worst hand possible. Unlike some other games where a low hand is involved, in triple draw straights and flushes count against you and aces are high. The best possible hand is 2 3 4 5 7 which is why they called it "deuce to seven" triple draw. There are blinds and betting just like in limit hold'em, but instead of a flop, turn and river, there are three draws where you get to throw away cards from your hand and replace them with new ones.

We all started the tournament with 4,000 chips and blinds of 10/20. By the time the hand in question came up the blinds were 80/160 (stakes of 160/320) and we were playing triple draw for the third time having already played all 7 other games twice (the game changes every 6 minutes and the stakes change every 12 minutes). My opponent raised and I three bet him with 2 3 4 5 J. He capped it and we both took one card. I caught an 8 which made me the 5th best possible hand (the only hands better are 76542, 76532, 76432 and 75432). When my opponent bet of course I raised him. When he three bet me I thought maybe he'd made one of those 4 magic hands, but since I knew he was a goof I raised him again.

He called and again took one card. When he drew instead of standing pat that told me I had the best hand (a made 8-low is a huge favorite against any 1 card draw). After the second draw he fired out again, and I raised him, and he reraised me and I capped it. Again he took a card and again he bet out.

No one in their right mind would bet out here with anything but a 7-low. Of course no one in their right mind would go nuts with a draw against a pat hand with one draw left to go either. So after the final draw I raised him and he reraised me! ACK!

I was thinking "if this guy beat me on this last draw I am going to go bananas!" I considered putting in the last bet, but instead just called and my opponent turned over 2 3 4 5 6! He'd made a straight! Maybe he didn't know that's a bad thing in 2-7 lowball!

I'd taken out two people in the pot limit Omaha just before, and that pot put me up to 20,000 chips. The player in second place in the whole tournament only had 9,000.

I never dropped below 20,000 for the rest of the tournament, and for much of it I kept my stack at twice that of the player in second place. The tournament paid 6 places and as we approached the money I kept my foot on the gas and piled up a mountain of chips. My only stumble came when we were playing 3 handed and I ended up falling back to even with my two opponents.

But then we switched to no limit hold'em. In the 6 minutes of no limit playing with 500/1,000 blinds. I went from 50,000 chips to 100,000 chips without ever winning a hand at showdown. I just totally ran over my opposition. I raised almost every hand and when they reraised me I'd put them all in which would lead to three seconds of thinking follwed by a fold. It was great. I finished them off in the pot limit Omaha.

1st place in that tournament was $2,664 and took my days winnings to about $6,500. It's good to be home!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chronicle Article About Me!

Here is a link to an article that appeared about me in the June 11th San Francisco Chronicle!

Thanks to the author Matt Villano! I thought it turned out to be a great article and I've gotten lots of positive feedback from people who stumbled on to it in the paper or online.

Since the article mentions this blog, in retrospect I probably should have made more of an effort to put up a witty interesting post on June 10th or 11th, but hopefully I'll still have a handful of new readers.


Since my last post I played 3 WSOP events: $1,500 HORSE, $2,000 NLH, and $1,500 NLH.

Going into the HORSE I had high hopes. I'd played so well in the $3,000 HORSE against maybe the second toughest field I've ever faced (the toughest was the $5,000 NLH event in 2006 - at one point I was maybe the worst player at my table which is something that had never happened to me before or since) and I was hoping for more of the same.

I started off well, ran my starting stack of 4,500 up to about 14,000, but when the limits got bigger I had a two hour stretch where I didn't win a pot. I went broke sometime in the 7th hour of play.

In the $2,000 no limit I slept in and signed up about a half an hour late (there is no penalty for signing up late and you can do so until 2 hours into the tournament) since this one had a noon start time and I'd played until after one am the night before. I got stuck at a table with a bunch of other people who signed up late and guess what? They could all play! This is not a surprise since the players who are only playing one event or who are sweating the money would never in a million years sign up late and miss the start of the tournament.

This tournament sucked! All day it was tough decision after tough decision. I kept flopping top pair with no kicker and getting raised or finding myself with pocket 8s on a ten high board or whatever. I was also short stacked for seemingly the entire tournament.

I did survive one pot in the 6th hour of play where I was about as far behind as you can be. We started with 6,000 chips, I had about 3,000 left and since we'd lost at least half the field I had about a quarter of average. The blinds were 150/300 with a 25 chip ante and I was in the cutoff. I peaked down at my first card which was an ace and since that was plenty good enough to move all in no matter what my second card was I didn't even look at my other one and pushed all my chips into the pot. Instantly I got called by the player in the small blind and the player in the big blind folded pocket sixes face up. The small blind turned over AJ of spades and I when I flipped over my hand it turned out my other card was a six! ACK!

So now I'm looking for the last six in the deck. When the flop comes out its Q J 7 with two spades! I'm totally dead here right? Well amazingly the turn comes a queen, the river comes an ace and we both make aces and queens with a jack kicker and split the pot!

After the flop I was 1.66% to get half the pot and 0% to get it all. Even after the turn I'm less than 5% to chop.

After that I staged an amazing comeback. I ran my stack all the way up to 20,000 and I was thinking that I'd have such a great story surviving that hand and going on to make the money. It's been long enough now that I've forgotten the exact details of my demise, but I finished about 400th of 1,550.

The next day at noon I played the $1,500 no limit hold'em event and got off to a great start. I was at a table full of very weak players to start and even though I was getting no cards I ran some strong bluffs and won a few nice pots.

In level two with blinds of 50/100 a player in early position raised to 300 and got called by three players. I was in the big blind with T8 and thought it was worth 200 to see a flop with all that money already in the pot. The flop came down KK2, I checked as did everyone else. The turn was a four and I figured I'd try to steal one. Almost no one will cold fire into four opponents like that (fearlessness is a big advantage), but I was all but sure that everyone had missed the flop and the four didn't look like it helped anyone. I bet out 800 and after some hemming and hawing the button called me. The river was another 4. I looked over at my opponents stack and saw that he only had about 1,900 left (we started with 4,500) so I threw two $1,000 yellow chips into the pot.

After about 5 seconds he said "I think my pocket jacks are good and you're just trying to bully me." SHIT! I wasn't sure what he had when he called me on the flop, by jacks was no where close to the range of hands I had him on. I couldn't believe anyone would just call a raise preflop on the button with jacks, but sure enough after a minute or so he folded them face up. Of course instead of showing my T8 I kindly informed him that I had a four and he'd made a good fold. Putting someone to a decision for all of their remaining chips is a powerful tool.

I was up to 9,300 by the first break, and up to 16,000 sometime in the 4th hour. But then I stalled. The five or six weak players at my starting table all went broke and were replaced by much tougher players. I got no cards for what felt like forever and eventually one of my big bluffs got caught. I wasn't able to recover once I was short stacked and went out in about 800th of 2,100.

I played 7 tournaments with buy ins totalling $14,500 and had a net loss of -$8,051. If you look back, you'll notice that I at least tripled my starting chips in 6 of the 7 tournaments I played (I doubled my starting stack in the other). I think that's a sign of how well I played and how I matched up against my competition.

When the blinds got big and the stakes got high I just never got the cards I needed or found myself in good situations to bluff. If you'd told me I'd triple my starting stack in 6 of 7 tournaments I would expect at least 3 cashes so I'm a little disappointed in that regard.

The good news is the main even is right around the corner (Day 1 for me will be either June 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th)! Until I get my last hand of the main event the 2009 WSOP isn't over!

I'll put up another post soon with a few more short stories about the various characters and more general reflections on my time in Vegas.

For now it's back to the online game. I expect to play a mix of tournaments and cash games in the two weeks I have before heading back to Vegas and I'll try to put up at least one or two posts in the near future.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Updates Coming

Hi, Jen here.
Dave wanted me to put up a post apologizing for the lack of updates. He says he'll post soon!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Event #31 Preview

I took yesterday off and today I have $1,500 HORSE at 5 pm. Hopefully I can keep up my HORSE success!

2009 WSOP Event #26 ($1,500 Limit Hold'em) Recap

We started event #26 with 643 players each with 4,500 chips.

I ran crazy hot during the first hour. I got KK three times and won them all, once making four kings against someone elses pokcet aces. I also made a flush, flopped a set and had my pocket aces hold up. I'm sure I was in the top three or four spots, if not in first place in the whole tournament at that point. Of course I was only up to 7,500 chips, so it didn't improve my overall chances as much as you might think.

As the tournament progressed I stayed right in the 7,000 range for a loooong time. After four hours I had 6,500. After 6 hours I had 6,400. In hour 7 I went up to 13,000, but then fell to 2,000, before ending hour 8 with 7,000.

The real drama of this tournament took place in hour 4. I busted the player to my right (he got the brunt of my first hour rush and had some other bad luck too) and he was replaced, not by a new player, but by an unattended stack of chips that had been moved from another table. The more time that went by without the owner of those chips showing up the more sure I was that it was a big name player (since they are the only ones who can afford to neglect their chips in a $1,500 tournament). In fact I said to the table that I bet it was Phil Helmuth since he's famous for showing up very, very late.

About half way through hour three that's exactly who showed up. Phil is the most succesful player in WSOP history. He was the 1989 main event winner (the youngest ever until a 22 year old won last year), he has a record 11 titles, a record 60+ cashes, and the most impressive stat if you ask me is his record 40 final tables! He is also a reknowned terrible loser and always has something to say when he get's eliminated.

On his third hand at the table Phil raised from the cutoff with KK, got called by the big blind who had 95s, and the flop came with two 9's. Phil lost a big pot and then attemted to tell everyone in the room about how someone called his preflop raise with 95 and how he couldn't believe how bad the players at his table were.

A few hands later he raised from middle or early middle position and I looked down at KQ off suit. I three bet and he just called. The flop came down KQ5 giving me top two pair and almost certainly the best hand. I was happy when Phil bet into me. I looked over at his chips and saw he had just enough left to put in two bets on the turn and one on the river so I just called. When he bet the turn as I expected, I raised him.

He stopped for a second looked over at me and said "you got it buddy?" I didn't say anything and after about 20 seconds he called. The river was a total blank, he checked, I bet and he called with his last chips. When I showed my hand he folded his face down and then yelled across the room to someone "they got me with the 95 and the KQ off suit over here! These players are trying to just give me their money!"

He said a little more, but I've forgotten exactly what. I know I played the hand perfectly and I was amused to say the least by the whole situation. It was like poker fantasy camp. "You too can come to Las Vegas, bust Phil Helmuth and get berated for making a very standard play!"

Unfortunately I couldn't come up with the good cards I needed at the right times and finished 185th.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WSOP Event #26 Preview!

Event #26 is $1,500 limit hold'em. This should be a soft field and limit hold'em is my best game so hopefully I can do well.

I'm feeling good after taking a day off today, but I do have to switch hotels moving from the Bellagio to Caeser's in the morning before I play which I always find to be a pain in the ass.

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...