Sunday, October 24, 2004

Paradise Poker $100K 10/24/04

Thank you to everyone who was sweating me.

I had one HELL of a day on Paradise today. First, I had 54% of the chips with 3 people left in the Seahorse tournament when the server crashed. This means an auto-chop and I received 1st place money, $1670. Nice payday? Oh yeah.

Then the 100K. I was an average stack all the way through. Then, with blinds of $400, I moved all in for $2900 from UTG+1 with 77. I got 4 callers!! Flop 246. No bets. Turn J. Uh oh. River 3 and I quadrupled up! I was against AQ, KQ, and A9. this put me 9th in chips with about 100 players left.

Then this hand came up:

I am SB with AdKd. A highly aggressive player raised to 10K, on a 3K BB. I smooth called. The flop was T62 rainbow. I moved all in for another 12K and he immediately called with AKo to split the pot. This is important because...

A few hands later I had 88 in MP. I have 28K. I raise to 7500 on a 3K blind. The same MP calls. The flop is 462 rainbow. I bet 10K, maniac MP raises to 20K. I have 11K left. At this point, I pondered for a long time. I used almost all of the time bank before reraising all in. He called with KcJc and did not improve. I crippled him and gave myself a lot of breathing room. Had he not called immediately with AK unimproved three hands before, I would never have made this call.

Then, on the bubble, I called a raise with TT. Flop was 9 high and I pushed. UTG had A9 and I was 2nd in chips.

I cruised to the final table from that point, then it got interesting. There was a lot of jockeying back and forth. I blew off a lot of chips just calling with second pair and dropped to 6th out of 8 left.

After some terrible play by the big stacks, we were 5 handed and I was the short stack. I called my last 19K with JTo on a 12K blind. the raiser had A4, the flop was KKJ and he did not catch an ace. I was alive!

He busted out soon after. A few hands later, I was once again desperate. We were 4 handed and I had 7K left after folding 52o in the BB to a raise. I called my last 1K on the 6K SB with QhJh. The BB had 9s3s. The flop was 33T. I was 5.3% to win the hand. I caught running jacks to stay alive. Amazing!

Three hands later I was once again SB with AKo and I was now up to 50K in chips. I pushed on the 12K blind. I was called by KJ. YES! Flop is ATxr. I said to my wife, I do not care if I get sucked out, I should have been dead already. Sure enough, the turn was the Qd. Ugh. The river was a beautiful Jc and we split. WOW!

A few hands later I called an all in from the second stack with AcTc. He had been aggressive throughout the tournament and was all in from the SB on my BB every time. He showed K8s and I flopped an ace. He was gone and we were heads up, guaranteeing me $15,000. AMAZING.

My opponent had 400K and I had 150K. He immediately offered me $2K to stop now. I bargained up to 3K and we moved all in with crap. He won and transferred the money a few minutes later.

All said and done, I made over $20,000 today. I am still shellshocked. I cannot really comprehend what just happened. I do not think I have ever played poker as well as I did today, nor have I ever gotten as lucky as I did today. In both tournaments today, I had AA exactly once. I won the blinds. The rest of the day was just playing poker.

My landlord will be happy to know the rent is taken care of this year! Check it out!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Playing Poker for a living 10/23/04

The days have blended together lately, it seems to be all one big session.

I have been averaging 8 hours per day playing 2-4 tables at once. Some notable tournamnet victories include winning the late night Langosta $50 tournament on Paradise for $1100 and chopping a Stars $100 tourney for $2400. This was a few weeks ago, so no key hands are fresh in my mind. I did play one Stars tourney where I finished just inside the bubble, doubling my money. The player who finished 135th out of 135? Greg 'Fossilman' Raymer. Does this make me the new WSOP champ?

I have moved away from big tournaments after a few disastrous direct buy-ins to the Stars weekend tourney and the Paradise weekend tourney. I lost two weeks in a row on Stars with a set (AA and 55) to a backdoor flush. Not pleased. I have been playing the occasional SnG and holding my own there, but I have moved more toward ring games.

First I tried 3/6 on Party/Empire. I did well initially, posting gains in 8 out of 9 sessions. Things soured from there. My limit game is not what it should be, as I think my NL aggression carries over. To date I am down $361 in 3/6. I would get very frustrated at the constant barrage of miracle cards people would pull out of nowhere on later streets. Perhaps I will give it another try after rereading ITH and finishing up SSH. For the time being, I just do not feel that my limit game is up to par (granted, this is after only 9000 hands). I did work off a bonus at Stars playing 2/4 and made an additional $280 in less than 700 hands, so I am pleased with that result. I also played one session of 5/10 6 max and cleaned up, making $351 in one session. However, I did not feel very comfortable with this level so I dropped back down. I found that I could get pots heads up and I could actually bluff, something I cannot do at 3/6 full. It was a pleasant change, however the roll does not currently support it.

My new love is NL ring games. I have been playing a lot of $100 max NL on Party and have had good results so far. Pokertracker has proven invaluable in this endeavor. I have folded AKs preflop to an UTG raiser after seeing that he was 9% VP$IP and 1% PFR. He flopped a set of kings and I would have lost a pile. If you have not yet used the notes export function, I suggest you do so. I have been leaving 4 Empire tables and 4 Party tables open at all times to collect observed hand histories, and I now have a mountain of data on everyone. After 4000 hands in 10 days, I am up $600 at this game. I have set a stop loss at $200 per day and a stop win at $400 per day. I have yet to evaluate the wisdom of this, and I do not think I will keep to it very well. It is just too restrictive. I know I am due for a big swing soon, but there are enough fish at this level to allow me to continue to post significant gains.

All in all, I am happy with how things are going. I am putting in the hours and making enough money to pay rent and bills, which is all I want at the moment. After two months, I feel comfortable enough with my rate of return to continue for a while.

Finally, a rather amusing thing happened yesterday. The manager of our apartment building came by to do some maintenance. He saw that I had a few PP windows open and laughed. He said he played for a living up until six months ago and invited me to a home game in town. I think I will take him up on that to get a little insight and have a poker buddy locally. It also got me wondering... do you think poker is affecting the "unemployment" rate? I have no doubt that there are plenty of players paying themselves under the table, but is it prevalent enough to affect national trends? Interesting thought.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Turning Stone Trip Report 10/8/04

A few weeks ago I won my way into the $1000 NL tourney held today. I showed up a little early and found my seat. I was chatting with my wife and I looked up to see... Al Krux standing about 3 feet away from me. I was inclined to mention that I had a stake in Matthew to see if he would give me a few hundred for our trouble, but I thought better of it. Why let him know I am a protege of Matthew "I Only Play Aces" Hilger? I prefer he know nothing about me if we hit the final table.

On to the tourney. 81 players were in, the top spot paid $32,000, 9th paid $2200. $3K in chips, 30 minute levels. Not the huge tourney I had expected. Early on it was clear that the table was as tight as could be. A few hands:

I checked AK in the blind in level one, flopped a king, and won a medium sized pot. A few hands leter I had QQ in MP and raised two limpers to $75, 3x the BB. One of the limpers then popped me back to $300 and I folded the queens face up after a moment's thought, saying I had to respect that move. Both of these hands are direct results of lessons learned on my AC trip.

One player in the 3 seat was playing every hand. I folded a lot of rags until I picked up AA on the button. He raised the minimum, to $200, so I reraised to $500. He called. The flop was 9 high rainbow and I checked behind him, knowing he would bet if I showed any weakness. On the turn (another rag but the second diamond), he bet $200 and I immediately raised him to $500 again. He seemed puzzled and called. I then bet $600 on the river and he folded. He told me later he had an up and down straight draw on the turn. He was raising rags because the table was so tight.

A few hands later I had QQ again on UTG+1, the last hand before the first break. UTG raised to $300 on a $100 BB. I smooth called, ready to run from overcards and raise any flop J high or less. Both blinds also called (ugh) The flop was JJx. UTG bet $300, I raised to $800. The blinds folded and UTG moved all in. Since this was the last hand before the break, a crowd gathered while I chided him and tried to make up my mind. I finally folded the QQ face up and he showed me AJ. I lost everything I had made with the AA a few hands before. At the break about 5 people told me what a great laydown it was. I thought it was a pretty routine laydown, but I would appreciate comments on it.

After fighting and taking small pots after the break, I picked up AK in MP. I had $2400 left. I raised to $700 on a $200 blind. An MP player moved all in for a lot more. He had been pretty aggressive to this point. I decided after much thought that the likelihood of him having AA or KK was diminished by me holding AK and I needed to take the coinflip. He showed me two black kings and I was gone.

In retrospect, I was about 5 minutes from the ante level and I had excellent table image. I had enough chips to force folds and pick up small pots. I feel I made a mistake with the AK, but not a huge one. Costly, yes, huge, no. It was a calculated gamble, but the situation and my instincts both said fold. It was a disappointing finish, especially since my plan had been to play cautious. Calling all in with AK is not cautious.

I do not think that my live MTT play is up to par. I am too tight for short levels and I tend to become short stacked quickly. Either loosen up or bluff more, I think that is the only way to survive. Comments, as always, are welcome.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Playing Poker for a living 10/3/04

Over the past month I am down over $3000 between my online and offline bankrolls. I can do no right and my opponents can do no wrong. It seems that I cannot bet people off of their draws, and anyone who plays an ace hits it against my pocket pairs. My aces have a 65% win rate and AK is at an abysmal 21% for the last month. It seems that I consistently lose AK to a set or Ax. When I do win, it is a tiny pot.

I have been amazed at how often I seem to be losing as at least a 60% favorite. I have scoured pokertracker in the last week looking for gaps and leaks. I seem to be playing Axs too much, but other than that the cards are just not falling my way. One problem I have found is that I expect to lose every hand. I do not know if this is affecting my play or hurting my aggression, but my aggression rating in pokertracker is down a tick.

There were a few successes amid the gloom. I chopped a Stars tournament at thee handed for a $2500 payday early in the month, but it has been downhill from there.

The plan at this point is to take a break. I plan on doing some reading and a whole lot of sleeping. There are a few books in my poker library that need a good study, then I will be back in business later in the week.

This Friday I am playing a $1000 tournament that I qualified for at Turning Stone Casino, and I hope to be in a better frame of mind by then. I'll post a trip report at that time.
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