Thursday, March 30, 2006


The poker gods are owning me lately. I don't know how to explain it. I've lost my last four or five MTTs all by silly, stoopid beats, most of which were significant leads for me with very few cards to come. I have been playing really great poker lately, and yet I have very, very little to show for it. And normally this is where I explain how *Insert Favorite Online Poker Site* is fixed, but in this case it is happening to me on pokerstars and full tilt, and even I can't believe they are both fixing things at the same time.

Last night I began with Mookie's tournament in the Big O Poker room on pokerstars. There were 21 entrants. I did very well at first, stealing my way to a few quick wins, and then busting a fish with my two pairs AQ on a flop of AQ9 rainbow. Can you guess what he had that he raised me all-in on the flop? JJ. If that ain't a guppy then I don't know what is. This got me out to third place early, where I stayed until making a bad play against one of the other chip leaders. I was convinced my 2nd pair was the best hand by the action thus far, and I was wrong. This dropped me down to last or second to last place of the remaining players, while others continued dropping out. With 14 players left (and me in 14th place), I was dealt AJo in middle position, and the guy right in front of me just calls after 3 folds start off the preflop betting. I read him for a low ace, and seeing my AJ, I figure this is a great situation for me to double up. So I move in, figuring he will call with his big stack almost regardless of what I have. I'm right, he calls, and flips over....A7. I'm styling. Then this:

Whaddya say IGHN? Thank you for owning me, Zeus, thank you for owning me, Hera.

Meanwhile, at 10pm ET I decided to use one of my easily-won $26 tokens on full tilt to play in the nightly 17k guaranteed tournament. I start off great, make a great read and am quickly up in the 2000 chip area. A few hands later I bust a player who moved in on my AK with his AJs (I love people who regularly call raises with AJ) and I'm well into the top 10% of the tournament's 787 entrants. I can tell this is going to be a good tourney for me, I can feel it in my bones. I'm thinking what kind of stereo system I'm going to buy with my share of the 17k.

Then an interesting thing happened. I am dealt AQs in the cutoff, with blinds of 20/40. It's folded all the way around to me, so I raise 3x to 120, hoping one of the blinds might put me on a steal and not a solid, playable hand like I have, and maybe play back at me where I can reraise him back again after much fake deliberation. The SB folds, and the BB just calls. I figure the BB was just defending his blind, but hoped he had something he might be willing to play with. The flop comes A73 rainbow. For me, a near-miracle flop unless he lucked into two pair, or if he was slow-playing AK preflop, in which case I'm about to get smushed and more power to him for the deceptive play. My opponent checks a little too quickly, and I can see the thoughts in his head: "I don't want to talk about my hand yet, but do you have an Ace?" I check back, my thoughts lying back to him: "Nope, no Aces here. If you have a low one, or better yet a mid-range one, please bet me."

The turn comes a J. This time, my opponent thinks: "Damn you didn't fall for my slow-play on the flop, but now I definitely don't think you have an Ace, so I'm going to bet you out of this pot right now", and he throws 600 chips into the 260 chip pot. Now, while I might have been a little afraid that he held AJ (and had just turned two pairs), once he made that big bet, I knew he didn't have 2 pairs since only a fool would play those two pairs that fast on the turn. So here's where I figured this guy must have the Ace I'm desperately hoping he has, with a kicker lower than a Jack. As I review his betting, I'm so sure of this that I move in on him, because with his big bet I figure he actually does have a solid Ace, just not as high as my AQ. He thinks for a short time and then calls me and flips over his cards. I was right about what he had, and my whole setup in this hand had worked to mf'ing perfection. I just forgot one small fact:

The poker gods are owning me lately.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Playing Great Poker

I've been on a really hot streak recently in my poker play. Not that I've exactly won a ton of cashish from it all, but I've been playing really well, and if not for some extremely poorly-timed suckouts, I would in fact have made some really good money. Yesterday's post describes some of my good performances yesterday, and then tonight started off with a 45-person, $11 turbo sng on pokerstars to warm up for the WWdN tournament tonight. The result:

I played great to make the final table in the first 45 sng I've played in probably a good three months or so. But, to be honest, it was somewhat bittersweet because this is how I lost in 6th place:

I know I was only a slight favorite preflop, but #1 it seems like I've been losing all of my coinflips recently, regardless of whether I'm the slight favorite or the slight dog (more on that later), and #2 if you look at the way I lost it, it was infuriating. These runnerrunnerrunnerrunner situations can eatit as far as I'm concerned. Too many of them have taken away too many pots from me too many times just lately.

Then came WWdN. As I've been running so well in my game lately, I came into this tourney feeling very confident, and I played that way right from the getgo. As per usual I stole blinds and pots throughout the tournament like it was my job. I got some good cards, but nothing spectacular, although I did manage to get pocket Aces somewhere near the end of the second hour of the tournament, which when I doubled with them managed to vault me into first place among the remaining 20 players in the tournament:

I used my large stack to my advantage much over the next 30 minutes or so, and with 14 players left, I still had a nice-sized chip lead:

And that was when the bottom fell out. I got dizznicked by pokerstars (why have so many of us regular players been saying that so much lately?) on two consecutive hands. First, I am dealt 44 in the SB. There's only one limper in the pot when it gets back around to me. I raise it up a couple thou, and CJ calls me with A9o. Not a great call there, but I guess he thought I was probably stealing again since I had been a master thief throughout the tournament. So I'm a slight favorite to amass a truly large chip lead, until an Ace comes on the flop, and I'm done. Still with plenty of chips though, since CJ hadn't had much left at the time of my first annoying loss. "Luckily", I got my chance at redemption on the very next hand, when I'm dealt 55 on the button, and again there is just one player in the pot when it gets back to me, and he had limped in at that. Having played for some time with Luck080 already in the tournament, my read of that bet was that he did not have a pocket pair, so I moved in again on him. He called with A-10o (another questionable move, but I can understand why that move was made). And AGAIN I lost my small lead on the flop, this time when not one but top two pairs flopped for my opponent. And just like that, in two hands I went from a large chip leader to 2nd to last place of the 12 remaining players. Honestly, I don't even remember what hand I actually went out on, but it was shortly after these two beats, and I recall I had two paint cards suited, and my opponent had two paint cards unsuited, but I did not have an Ace, and the Ace hit on the flop (AGAIN!) to make top pair for him and send me home in 12th place overall. It was a horrendous way to end a really great run in the WWdN for me tonight. I don't even want to think about it anymore. I recognize that both hands were just slight favorites, but the math says that it was less than 20% for me to lose both of those hands back to back like I did. Either one of them wins, and I'm almost a shoein for the final table at this thing. Gross.

I should also mention that I played about 55 minutes of awesome poker in the latest $5 turbo MTT on pokerstars tonight at 10:39pm. This is the event that I have cashed in 9 out of my last 10 attempts, and I was well on my way to another cash, with only another 100, 150 eliminations left, and with me well in the top 100 remaining players. Then this bullcripe happened:

I mean, what do you even say to that? Yes I know everyone has Aces cracked from time to time. But to dupe some fidiot into moving in on me preflop with that embarrassing Q-10s, and then to lose to a flucking flopped flush, that is just recockulous, redonkulous and all the other made up words I use to describe fishdonks and the donkfishity plays they make to beat me.

Late in the night, I also played $.01/.02 pot limit Omaha with a bunch of bloggers, including Dr. Pauly, BiggestRon, Heffmike who won the WWdN tonight, and Wil Wheaton, and had a blast while I managed to lose about 500 pennies over maybe an hour and a half of play, all of which occurred near the end when Pauly rivered a nut flush to my smaller flush. Pauly was the luckbox most of that cash game last night in fact, if I don't say so myself, while CJ railbirded and watched Pauly take on CJ's lucky suckouting persona. In all it was another fun night of poker, where I played some of my best game but didn't quite get the results I deserved for it, thanks to some pokerstars special suckouts and outdraws.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Droppin The Hamma

As those of you who have played with me often know, I play the Hammer (7-2 offsuit for the uninitiated) almost religiously. I won't get stoopid with it, but I'll raise or even reraise with it preflop, and of course I always show it. (In fact, why would one ever play the Hammer without showing it? Hmmmmmm.) Anyways, I love what a shown reraised-with Hammer does for my table image. Most people seem to try to avoid showing their bluffs. But I love how many more calls I get generally when people know I wield the Hammer like a sword.

Why am I telling you all this? Because last night I had my best-yet Hammer experience. I've played the Hammer hundreds and hundreds of times. But almost every time, I'm making everyone fold preflop because I just about always raise with it, unless maybe I'm in the BB and there are several limpers to me. So I barely ever get to see a flop with the Hammer, let alone a full board, and almost every time I am seeing a flop, I know before it comes out that I'll be insta-checkfolding, because the only time I'm in that situation is where someone else called my preflop Hammer raise, indicating a strong hand and one that I can't possibly hope to actually compete with once a flop is out.

Anyways, so last night I'm playing another of those Tier 1 $8 sngs with 18 people on full tilt, with the top 5 receiving a $26 token. I think this is the easiest thing to cash in in the world. Even easier than the $6 sngs with 18 people that give $26 tokens to the top 4. Anyways, with the blinds at 50/100, I look down to find the Hammer in the cutoff position. There's only one limper to me, and especially with this guy limping not from early position, I don't put him on much of a hand. Maybe A-x suited, maybe KJ, who knows. So I put in a Hammer raise to 300. This guy, stubborn as a donkey, calls with what turns out to be Q-10s, which he surely should have folded. What does he think I have that he can beat? I'm raising him preflop with J-9o? Criminy.

So the flop comes 8-3-K with two diamonds, a total bust for me as usual with the Hammer. He quick-checks, a sign that can mean strength in a good player, but I had played with this guy already for a bit, and he was the donkiest donk that ever donked, so I figured him to be weak. I checked behind him nonetheless with my 7-high Hammer and no hit on the board. Then the turn brought a 2, a card which I figured gave me the lead with my pair since I had pegged him as weak earlier. I make it a real point to trust in my instincts on my reads as long as I'm taking all information into account and am constantly updating my impressions based on any new information I receive along the way in a hand. So, when he checked again to me, I took my pair of 2s on the turn and bet him 800, slightly more than what was in the pot at the time. He mulls it over, and then inexplicably (but deliciously) calls with his Q-10 suited, with none of his cards and none of his suit on the board through the turn. This is just the kind of donk that plays in these Tier One sng's on full tilt regularly, and you only need to finish in the top 25% or so of them to get your token for much cheaper than the $26 that everyone else pays to play in the ftp guaranteed tourneys. Anyways, the river brings another 2, and I am SURE I have the best hand, but don't know what this guy has that he would have now called two large bets from me with. So, with about 2300 in the pot, I figure I'll tempt the donk with another pot-sized bet. So I go with 1600. A little light of the pot, but enough to make him think I might be stealing. Well, wouldn't you know it, the donkey called me again with his friggin Queen High. (Does this guy think he is Phil Ivey or something?)

And here is my taunting of him just a few seconds later, because I couldn't resist after that donkified move:

I ended up coming in first place in that $8 sng, so I got another token that I can use to bust out early in the first round in the nightly 17k guaranteed tourney on ftp some night this week. That's how I roll.

One other piece of poker news from last night -- I finally took the plunge and did a $5 heads-up match with Veneno on ftp while I dominated those clowns in the sng above. We had been toying with the idea for a few days, and since I dominate at hu, I figured why not, I can use the $5 I win from Veneno to cash in the next $5 MTT Turbo tourney on pokerstars tonight at 10:39pm ET. So we started up, and in the first few hands, I bluff-reraised Veneno and got her to fold preflop (and proudly showed her my bluff, 4-high as I recall), and she reraised me and got me to fold once preflop as well (I assume she was bluffing as well). Veneno was probably up 20 or 30 chips when I get dealt 88. A great hand hu by all accounts. Veneno acts first, and she raises the blind from 20 to 60 chips. I pause and then reraise her to 200. Here I'm figuring I just bluff re-raised her and showed it, and I'm about to use my duplicity to trick this chick into re-reraising me this time because she'll figure me for another brazen bluff. My plan works laughably well, as she moves allin on me, this just maybe 6 or 7 hands into our hu match. I smile smugly to myself, type in the chat "sure hope you have a pocket pair, Veneno!" and then call. I just wish I could see her face when she sees that she just got duped by me, set up by my previous bluff, and is now a dog with just two overcards to my pocket 8s.

The thing is, it didn't work out quite that way. One of us did get set up, but it wasn't Veneno:

She flipped KK, and IGHN. A bad way to start things off with a heads-up specialist. But I'm not going to feel too bad about that. I played it right and I put on a great move. The cards just set me up. And I'll get my money back from Veneno and then some, I'm not going to worry about that.

Hopefully see you all in the latest WWdN tonight. Isn't it about time I cashed in one of these things?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Phat Stacks on Full Tilt

Byron, you are definitely the HammerPlayer's Man of the Hour. Last night's Fat Stacks tournament on Full Tilt, featuring a tasty 3000 starting chips, was one of the most fun blogger events I've played in in several months. There is just something magical about the tournaments where you don't have to start with 1000 or 1500 chips and basically endure a lot of pushing early as stacks can get thin pretty quick. There is just so much more room to Play Your Game and wait until you get the cards to do it. I had been looking forward to this tournament all week, especially since it would be my first of the three WPBT events thus far, due to other engagements (read: The Sopranos). We had company over Sunday for dinner, though, and as a result I didn't get started in the tournament until about 10 minutes in. I'm sure I mucked three pocket Aces during that time :) But when I got in there, I started stealing pots early and often. I took advantage of some would-be blind stealers early on (you know who you are), and played the hammer once early for a quick steal in first round or two. I played very aggressively -- I remember at least twice during the first half of the tournament or so where I was all-in on more or less a complete bluff, where I was fairly sure the other guy had some kind of hand, just not the best hand.

The crowning achievement of my tournament actually came somewhere in the middle, with blinds at 75-150 where preflop saw three folds, then a raise to 600 from middle position, two callers @600 apiece, and then to me, where I look down and see....The Hammer. Only my third hammer of the night to that point, one of which I couldn't play due to two allin moves ahead of me preflop (god that sucked!). So, I thought for a while. The raiser was BadBlood, a guy who plays aggressive and who really knows the value of position in no limit holdem, and the eventual winner of the tournament. After three folds to him, I couldn't put Blood on a particularly strong hand preflop with that raise. The two callers I read as weak-ish, given that Blood would likely fold if he wasn't strong and they reraised (but they chose not to, even knowing that fact). So, I thought it over for a bit, and then I bumped it to 3 grand. A bunch of quick folds, then Blood folds, and finally the last two callers folded. I clicked "Show Cards" within a millisecond of that thing popping up on my screen. I got a couple of "wow's" and one "vnh", but no screen shot as my application was down at the time. But take my word for it, it happened. That's not a move I'll make often (reraising a big preflop raise from middle position with the Hammer), but I'll do it just enough to keep people guessing.

Anyways, long story short, I played a very aggressive, very solid, very blindstealy game as is necessary to really advance in an MTT, especially one against known solid competition like the blogger events. I eventually made my way to the final table:

This is my fourth final table at a blogger event, but frustratingly I still have to make the cash in any of them. I entered this one in third place out of the nine players at the table, having just eliminated #11 from the tournament and coasting in from there. Unfortunately, I
went out in ninth
overall when I got a little too aggresive on a blind steal attempt about 10 or 15 hands in to the final table. Because the M's get so low by the final table in the shorter-round tournaments (I think mine was about 8 at the point I went out), when I saw KQs in 5th position and a few folds ahead of me, I bumped it up 4x or 5x as I had done about a billion other times that night with marginal cards. One player near the end reraised me what would have put me allin. I thought it over, figured I am almost certainly behind, but in the end I figured I had, at that point, I already sunk about 45% of my total stack into that hand, so I went for it and made the call, basically hoping for a middle pair. I thought the move-in there was a little bit of a weak play, in that I think the smarter move with, say, AA or KK would have been to just call and the move in on the flop regardless of what it was. So I called it, knowing I was probably not much better than a 48 or 49% chance to win. My opponent flipped AJ, a much weaker hand that I figured him for with that move, which I would classify as pretty much reckless. Reraising a middle position raise with AJ at the beginning of a 9-person final table -- that is reckless to say the least. Ballzy yes, but reckless at least as much. So I was just a little bit behind, and I managed to river 2nd and 3rd pair to hit a nice hand:

Unfortunately, my opponent and his reckless AJ (but it was SOOTED after all...) managed to make 1st and 4th pairs on the turn, and IGH in 9th place overall. Not where I wanted to finish, but I played great overall and had a blast.

One more word on BadBlood's play last night. He was a machine. He was aggressive, he stole a ton of blinds which really fueled his rise after being close to done at multiple points in the tournament. I was fortunate (unfortunate) enough to be sitting right next to him almost the entire way through the tournament, and it was very interesting to watch another guy playing like he does. I say interesting because Blood seems to play more or less the same way that I do, with the same level of conviction in his moves, and that same sneakiness that draws you in to playing with him because of all his stealage, but then flips the full house on you on the river when you least expect it. Congratulations to BadBlood for winning it all, which he surely earned with the quality, consistency and outright aggression of his play.

Thanks again to Byron for setting this all up. I look forward to continuing the advance in my WPBT POY standings, with this being my first event and all.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Fun With Bloggers

First off, only for those of you who watched the West Virginia / Texas game through to the bitter end on Thursday night, I have one word for you: Resuck. That's the first thing that popped into my head after Pittsnoggle hit the crazy 3-pointer with 5 seconds left, only to then see Texas hit an even crazier 3-pointer as time expired to run away with the victory. See, like is just a poker game, and when West Virginia hit the huge 3-pointer to tie the game for the first time in like 10 minutes, right near the very end of the game, my poker-infested brain immediately thought "What a suckout!". That's just like Mr. Donklefish hanging around with a dominated hand after the flop, but then pulling the miracle two-pair card to move ahead of your pocket Aces on the turn. It was crushing to Texas fans everywhere I'm sure. But then, just like in poker, over the span of less than five seconds, the suckout turned to a resuck when Texas hit the last-second shot to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat that had already been snatched from the jaws of victory. A suckout and a resuck in the NCAA tournament....What will they think of next?

Anyways, back to the poker content, Thursday night was a real blast for me. First, I started off playing in the Heads-Up Challenge III, a super fun event put together by fellow poker blogger Veneno, who did a fabulous job btw, including some last-minute shenanigans that almost threatened to postpone the event on Full Tilt. I quickly found myself up against wwonka, the guy whose poker playing handle looks and sounds just like Will Wonka, but who is not in fact named Will Wonka, or even Will for that matter. So I don't even know this guy's name -- all I know is that his name is not, in fact, Will Wonka. Anyways, Not-Will and I started our heads-up match on time at 9pm ET, and I quickly went on the offensive. It took me all of about 5 minutes or less to determine that Not-Will-Wonka is, in fact, not nearly as aggressive as me, and fairly easy to chip up against as a result. Not-Will probably raised me on only 5 of the first 30 hands we played, whereas I raised him at some point during maybe 25 of those 30 hands. Not that you have to be raising 25 out of 30 hands to play well heads-up, but 5 out of 30 raisings is, in my book, not sufficiently aggressive to do what you have to do in one-on-one holdem, in particular not against me. So I grabbed the early lead by forcing Not-Will to fold on most of the first ten hands. In fact, I held the chip lead in our match from the first hand through about hand 25 or 30. Then things went south in a hurry, and it wasn't even the poker or the cards that did me in. My youngest daughter -- she is barely 6 months old -- suddenly woke up screaming about 30 hands into my match with Not-Will. My wife was already asleep, and begged me to take care of the baby since my wife has, in all fairness, been up with the babies almost every night either one of them has awoken over the past month, and since my wife is sick this week. I was happy to oblige, but being heads-up, it's not really a fair option to just click "Sit out" and come back in 30 minutes when the baby is back asleep. So, I got delayed out of one hand while I went to get my daughter, put her in the stroller and bring her back to my room so I could rock with my right hand while I play with my left. The thing is, even though I am just about the world's most coordinated person with my right hand, I am also basically worthless with my left. So, it was not working out well using just my left hand to bet, raise or fold in my heads-up match, and unfortunately there is no way to rejigger things in my room so that I could reverse the hands I was using for the baby and for the computer. As a result, I got very frustrated and was simply unable after just a few hands to afford the proper amount of attention to my game with Not-Will, which was a double shame because not only was I beating down on him before the baby awoke, but I was beating him by being repeatedly aggressive against a guy who quite clearly did not know how to handle it. It was fun doing that to someone, though I do manage to do it to almost everyone I ever play heads-up. In any event, after maybe only 4 or 5 hands, it was obvious to me that I was not going to be able to do both things, and frankly the baby would scream at the top of her lungs every time I stopped rocking her in her stroller for even 1 second to make a play in the HUC game. And if the baby woke up either my wife or my 2-year-old daughter sleeping in the other room, then I would be Mr. Dickhead for the evening. Long story short, I decided I had to end the heads-up battle as quickly as possible, hoping I could win quick and then rock the baby to sleep in the time I spend waiting for the other match to end. That consisted of me pushing the next hand, which was K9o, despite a reraise from Not-Will of my original raise. And believe me, the way he was playing, the reraise could only mean one thing: strength. But I had to end the match, one way or the other, and end it I did. He flipped JJ, I did not pull a King, and I was out of the HUC3 with quite a whimper. Still, several bloggers railbirded during our fairly short-lived match, and in all it was a great time. Thanks again to Veneno for putting it all together.

Anotehr fun part of last night was the HUC Lounge nlh tournaments that Veneno also set up. While the first one at 9:30pm ET ended up being voided by Full Tilt (I don't know why, perhaps due to lack of signups), the second one that began at 10:30pm ET was a lot of fun. Many of our blogger friends were there, including Veneno herself, Sir Waffles, Ingoal, Garth, SurfLexus and Wes, and I'm sure I'm forgetting one or two key others as well, so I apologize in advance for that. The total field was a small "quaint" group of 15 or 16 or so bloggers, and we had a good ol' time laughing and joking with each other in the chat while we tried to kick each other's asses for a piece of the $75 prize pool, awarded only to the top 3 finishers. Well, I am happy to say, after busting Ingoal and then following it up by busting our gracious host Veneno, I ended up making the cash, and then going out in 3rd place when I called Wes's reraise despite my holding the Hammer, which somehow got sucked out on by Wes's double-paint. It was a great way for me to turn an $8 profit and have a great time doing that along the way:

Oh and how could I forget -- another Thursday night, another cash in the pokerstars large $5 buyin turbo tournament. This makes 9 cashes in my last 10 entries into this event. I wonder if there is some way I could make a living just playing online turbo low-buyin events. I guess not. Still, I had a really fun time playing in this tournament, watching the field whittle down from its original 1426 entrants to the 135 who got paid, and then some. I think the highlight of that turbo tournament was definitely me sucking out with the Hammer to win a nice sized pot from the prohibitively huge stack at the table, and taunting him the entire way during the hand:

In the end, it was a disgusting suckout that knocked me out of the turbo event, with my slow-played two pairs on the raggy flop losing to a 2-outer pocket kings in my opponent, in a hand that would have and should have given me a huge stack heading into the final 100 players:

So in the end, I was out in 113th place:

It was a lofty $7 profit, but again I play these events not so much for the money as for the practice and the experience, and this run I'm on of 9 cashes in the last 10 $5 turbo MTTs is really a testament I think to my willingness to play aggressively, and to the fact that I can really excel in a situation where selective, strategic aggression is not only rewarded, but required. I guess they only run this event on Tuesdays and Thursdays these days, but I'll have to keep my eyes open to see when else it is available so I can continue the streak I am on.

In all, it was a really fun night of poker, I got on the chat with a number of other poker bloggers, showed my skillz in the lounge game with some of these guys, and let my 6-month-old daughter take my attention away from a heads-up match that I could not afford to pay less than 100% attention to. Here's to more of the same this weekend (minus the baby wakeage, of course).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Party 40k Guaranteed Tournament

I'll take it. I should have done better, but I made one steal attempt too many, this time with KJo, and when the Jack flopped I had to bet out since most of my chips were already in the pot at that point. I felt confident at the time, but when he flipped over pocket Queens once the money was in the middle, I didn't even have to watch to know that no King was coming my way.

Anyways it's not a lot of money, but 185th place out of over 2200 entrants is nothing to sneeze at. And sure I'll take the $9 increase in my Party bankroll, why not?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Busted Wil!!

Shortly after the WWdN East Coast tourney this evening, Wil set up a heads-up tournament for the bloggers, which I also played in. There were 24 entrants total.

After a quick first round matchup, I was faced with none other than Wil himself in round 2. It was a back and forth matchup, with lots of friendly banter and bluff showing. I knew something good was up when I raised with, won and showed the Hammer on the very first hand of the match. I think Wil was up around 3600-2400 at one point fairly early on, and I probably got up as high as about 4100 to 1900 a bit later before Wil made a ferocious comeback, basically by winning about 15 consecutive hands when I got Absolutely Nothing to play or even call with. After Wil drew back to even with me, we went back and forth again for a bit, and then with the chip stacks almost identical, this hand happened:

By way of explanation, Wil moved all-in on the flop in this hand, with his top two pairs having to look Very Very Juicy, in particular in light of my small bet to lead at the flop. In the end, he got set up big-time, as I had flopped and slow played a flush, which mercifully held up and I advanced to the round of 8. Unfortunately, jjok made fairly short work of me in the next round, busting me in 7th place, just out of the money positions, when my second pair top kicker fell to his top pair medium kicker. jjok made a great call on me and took most of my chips, and that was that, with me out in 7th place overall:

One other item of interest today is that I once again played in the 22:39pm $5 turbo tourney on pokerstars, and I once again cashed in the event, finishing in 85th place out of 1491 players:

I don't know specifically what it is about that format that benefits me so much, but whatever it is, I have now cashed in 8 of my last 9 large $5 turbo events on stars. And of those 8, probably 7 of them have been not just low cashes, but rather top 100 finishes. This 85th place is actually a bit on the low side for where I've been coming in just lately in the big turbo tournaments. So the payoff was only $11 and change for my fifth percentile finish, but instead of looking at it that way, instead I say (1) it is more than 100% profit on my $5 investment, and (2) at least I didn't lose my $5 investment, which I view as gone from the moment I pay the entry fee to these events, especially the larger ones where it's very hard to expect to cash in most cases.

In all, a very enjoyable night and a fairly successful one in my book, despite me losing about $14 overall. Another large turbo top 100 finish, combined with busting Wil Wheaton heads-up and ending in 7th out of 24 in the heads-up challenge match, and going out 21st out of 63 in the main WWdN....I'll take that, all things considered.

The Hand That Tilted Me This Time

Out in 21st today out of 63 entrants to the latest WWdN tournament. For the first time in a Long time, I got to play some good time with Wil at my table, which always adds to the excitement with the possibility of the naming rights for next week's Wil tournament. Unfortunately even though Wil got short stacked pretty quick at our table, in the end the honors went to jg2323 instead of to myself, as Wil went out on a dominated hand and that was that for the tournament naming issue.

I played very well in the tournament tonight, and ended up going out when my AQo ran into QQ, and of course no Ace came for me and IGH. But per my usual aggressive style, I ended up winning exactly 31 out of 157 hands in which I played, for a very strong 19.75% of the total hands I saw, despite being at an 8- or 9-handed table almost the entire night. I stole tons of blinds, and frankly did quite well given that I didn't see a single pocket pair higher than 2's the entire night out of 157 hands.

The most amazing part of my 21st place finish tonight was that I went on Massive Ubertilt in the middle of this tournament, due to the following hand:

I mean, just look at that shite. I get in with a dominating hand over a guy who I duped into calling me by my well-timed use of hesitation in my betting, and then the fucking flop does me in just like that. And again, just like yesterday which I also blogged about, I had already typed in my commentary (the only way I was able to Boo this move before even the turn card came out), because I flat out knew something like this was going to happen. Pokerstars has been effing absurd lately. And it's not just me. Garth is talking about it. Sir Waffles too. And there are other bloggers doing it as well. PS is going on another of their binges lately. Let's just hope none of us get sucked down its greedyass maw before the powers that be at ps decide to relax a little bit.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Holy Effing #@?/$%&

I simply cannot believe some of the beats I have been suffering lately on jokerstars. And I'm not the only one. Several of our blogging brethren have been experiencing severe beatage recently on that site in particular.

Tonight I played in another 180 sng on ps. Long story short, I was dealt Aces not once but TWICE in just the first round of the tournament, but lost good money with both of them, one when a flush obviously hit on the turn with two fishidiots in drawing to it, and another time when some zobo called with redickulous pot odds to stick around to the river and then hit backdoor trips when the board paired at the end. What bullshit. I was not dealt a single other premium hand through the entirety of the tournament, and frankly I saw AQ once, didn't see AK, AJ or even A-10, and saw no pocket pair above 5s the rest of the way through. Nonetheless, I managed to stick around as we crossed the 35 people remaining mark, basically by being resourceful -- bluff raising obviously weak players or obvious stealers, stealing myself where appropriate, and just lead bluffing at some pots that looked beatable to me. In fact, given the cripey cards I had, I was actually playing quite well.

Then, with 32 players remaining and me right around the low money positions in 18th place, I was dealt J5o UTG, and limped in with 5 other callers. Flop comes J65. I'm styling, knowing that it is impossibly unlikely that someone else has J6, and otherwise, two Jacks is even more unlikely, as is 55 and 66. So I am golden. So being me, I go trolling for lobsters. I bet small. Not a check, which might look suspicious at least to the more observant players at my table. No, I just bet around 1/2 the pot. The fish across the table from me calls while everyone else folds. Turn is a 9, rainbow. A great card for me, as it remains highly unlikely that my opponent holds J9 (although I do have friends who choose to play J9 fairly regularly in a strange perversion of Mason Malmouth). I decide to make the same small bet of 2/3 the flop pot, indicating real weakness to an unsuspecting donkey, which this hopefully is, figuring this time he won't be able to resist. He takes the bait hook, line and sinker (they always do)! He reraises me 3x the pot. I think it over for effect, and then after significant hesitation, I reraise allin since I'm about 99% sure I have the best hand right now. I just don't see how I can get away from that hand at this point. Anyways, Nemo calls me pretty quick, and flips over.... 10 J suited. That's it. I mean this fidiot called me all-in with top pair Jacks plus a 10 kicker. I'ts almost impossible to believe. But it happened. As did this on the river:

I mean, what the flying fuck do you say to this after two hours of domination, including the hand you go out on like this? Notice at least my chat that I typed into the window on the link above. The sad thing is, I already had that chat typed in before the bullshite river card even appeared. Pokerstars has been so recockulous lately, I just knew it was going to happen. And they were All Too Happy to oblige.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Quick Update

Last night I went 1 for 1 in another full tilt $26 token sng for the $6 buyin. Then, I also played a new $26 token sng structure they have going on there, which is an $8 buyin with 18 players instead of the normal $6 buyin with 18 players that I've been playing. Only with the $8 tournament, the top five players get the $26 token, instead of just the top 4 like in the $6 buyin version. And I won that one too. So overall, I am 7 for 18 now in cashing in the $6 buyin events (39%), and 100% in cashing in the $8 sngs. And it's good that I won back those tokens, because last night I played great in the 17k guarantee tournament on ftp, but went out in 99th place (743 entrants) when my pocket 6s were bested by the tournament chip leader's pocket 4s plus a 4 on the turn, despite us moving allin preflop. That hurts. Two-outers always do.

I also went out in 26th out of 33 players in Wil's west coast blogger tournament last night. Not a good showing, and I wasn't above the 1500 starting chips for more than 1 or 2 hands the entire time I was in. And hey, at least I outlasted Sir Waffles, so it's not all bad. ;)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Live Blog - Stars 180 SNG

I know this isn't any kind of special event, since the 180 sng's for $20 are constantly running on pokerstars, but tonight I'm going to play in my first 180 sng in a few weeks. I have high expectations for myself in this event given the way I've been playing.

The cards are in the air at 10:36pm ET on Wednesday evening.

10:40pm: I've folded the first four hands I've seen. The best hand I've seen in these first few sets of pocket cards is 97s.

10:41pm: I check in the big blind with J4o. Flop comes KKJ. I check, opponent bets about the size of the pot, but is not giving off vibes of strength or confidence to me with that bet. I hesitate and then call, thinking I probably have the best hand. The turn brings a raggy 6. I check again, hoping for another weakish bet, and he bets again about the size of the pot. I think briefly and then raise him by 3x his bet. He quickfolds, and I'm up from the starting 1500 to 1820 chips.

10:43pm: Very next hand, I limp from the small blind with 73o and three callers behind me. Flop comes A54 rainbow. It is checked all the way around, ending with me since the big blind is out of this hand. Turn is a Jack, and again it's checked all around. On the river my inside straight fills as a 3 of clubs appears. Unfortunately, it is checked to me again, I bet about 2/3 the size of the pot, trying my damnedest to appear on a steal attempt. But alas no one falls for my e-acting abilities, and I pick up a small pot. Right now with 1900 chips, I'm in 32nd out of 166 players remaining.

10:49pm: Dealt 88 in the SB. Just the cutoff has limped. I raise it to 5x preflop. The BB quick folds, and the cutoff calls. Flop comes A-10-6 rainbow. I check, he bets almost the whole pot, representing some kind of Ace (or at least a ten), and I have to fold. Damn how I hate when the unwanted Ace comes on the flop, don't you?

10:59pm: I raise from late position when it's checked around to me preflop. I bump it to 4x the BB with QJo. Only the BB calls. Flop comes 9-10-4 with two diamonds and a club. The BB checks, I bet the pot with my OESD, and he quick calls. To me it seemed almost too quick, in that he either had a monster hand and was slow playing me, or he didn't really have much of anything. Then the turn brought the Ace of clubs, making two flush draws on the board. When he checked me again on the turn, I knew in my head he couldn't be playing anyting huge, unless he's an abject moron, allowing those two flush draws plus any overs the chance to crush him on the river. So I bet fairly lage, and he quick folds. I'm up to 2280 chips.

11:03pm: Forced to fold AJs when the flop misses me entirely, and one of the four callers in the pot bets out more than the size of the pot. Right now I'm at 2055 chips, good enough for 55th out of 136 current players, and enough for just about 100 chips above the current average stack of the remaining players in the tourney.

11:10pm: I opt to slow-limp with AKo in early position preflop. 3 players call. When the flop comes 246 with two hearts, and my opponent bets more than the size of the pot, I opt to fold. I'm making a concerted effort not to push too hard with AK when I don't hit something with it.

11:11pm: My first doubleup comes courtesy of a big fish. I raise to 3.5x preflop in first position with A-10o. One guy in late position quick calls me. Flop comes 10-high. I bet small, he calls. Turn is another rag. I bet big this time, figuring for fairly sure my TPTK is the best hand. He quick calls again. When the river pairs the lowest of the rags from the flop -- ostensibly the card I should have been hoping for in this case -- I moved allin quickly, and was called by...AK, with no hit on the board. My TPTK holds up and I double up to 3505 chips, good for 20th place out of 116 players remaining.

11:20pm: Four players are knocked out in one hand at my table, as out of 5 players allin preflop, only ONE of them had any kind of pocket pair (and that one was 9s at that). Can you imagine the uproar if this happened at a *real* table, one not populated by players with gills and fins? Sheesh! Down to 104 players remaining.

11:27pm: I steal the blinds from middle position with 22. Next hand, I have AJo, I raise it 4x, and am forced to fold when the cutoff moves in on me. The very next hand I have A-10o from middle position, and I make the same 4x raise preflop, and successfully steal. The VERY next hand, I raise the same amount from early position with KQs, and steal the blinds again. A nice stretch there. My table is broken up one hand later, so I'm starting all over with all new faces again.

11:34pm: I steal the blinds and one limper bet from first position with a 5x raise with pockets 6s.

11:37pm: The first break is here. I have 3165 chips (thank you big blind AGAIN!), placing me squarely in the middle of the pack of the remaining players, in 35th place out of 75 remaining. Average stack size is 3648, so I'm still a bit under. I will need to play somewhat more aggressive in this round if I am to make a move before the real chip leaders are out of reach.

11:50pm: I haven't played a hand or seen a flop since the break. As annoying as these stretches are, I like them even less when I know I'm live blogging and don't have anything good to say.

11:58pm: I end up with half the blinds when in middle position I am dealt AQo. I raise, he reraises allin, and I call. He shows me...AQo as well. I love when that happens.

12:03am: Won a nice pot with a standard continuation bet after laying the seeds with my preflop raise in position. Next hand, I double up for the second time when my preflop raise with 66 in my usual steal position ends up holding up against my opponent's AK, after we got our chips in on the turn. Now up to 7250 chips, against an average stack size of under 6300, and currently in 14th place out of 43 remaining players. Not bad so far.

12:09am: Dealt AA for my first premium hand of the entire tournament, but it's folded around to me in the SB, and my raise of 2.5x is not enough to induce a call.

12:14am: Dealt 66 in the BB, but it's folded around to me. I'll take the 300 chips from the blinds.

12:16am: More blind stealing, this time with 9-10s. I do love to raise with that hand. 9-10 and 10-J, suited or otherwise, all great raising hands.

12:22am: I lose 600 chips attempting a steal from the SB when it's checked to me. Turns out the BB, who had been allowing me -- practically begging me -- to steal his blind all night long actually woke up with a hand this time (I had just J4o). Next hand I stole the blinds from late position with A3o.

12:25am: Won 800 chips when I reraised a guy who was clearly just trying to steal my blind with nothing. Ahhh the bluff reraise. The territory of only the boldest of poker players. 7506 chips, 12th place out of 37 remaining, but still just barely above the average stack.

12:26am: Lost 800 chips when I raised to 800 in the cutoff with 55 after it was folded to me, but then the guy to my left kicked it up to 2000. I know from watching him play for the last hour that he has something good, so I fold. The very next hand, I stole the blinds with A4s.

12:30am: Won 1600 chips when I attempted a steal with KQs in the SB, the BB called as he seems to be of the opinion that now I'm stealing EVERY time I raise in the steal position, a thought that I will make cost him if he keeps acting on it. In the meantime, I'm at my tournament high in chips, 8056, and in 12th place out of 35 remaining players.

12:33am: With 22 in first position, I raise it 3.5x and complete the steal to bring me to 8356 chips, my new tournament high.

12:34am: Next hand I am dealt JJ. I raise it 2000, and one opponent reraises me allin for another 1600 chips. I obviously call, and he flips KQs. All is good until the FUCKING river is the King of clubs, and I get smushed for a 4000 chip loss. DISGUSTING. Next hand I steal the blinds with J7o. I should start showing all of these hands I'm betting. GodDAM it that last hand pisses me off. I was ONE card away from the top 5 players in the tournament. Cheesus H. Christ that fucking sucks.

12:39am: I steal the blinds with big slick. Back up to 5890 chips even after the extreme fuckage of a few hands ago, good for 18th place out of 31 remaining.

12:41am: I steal again with K5o. Back over 6000 chips.

12:42am: Dealt 10-10 in middle position, and it's folded to me. I raise to 2400, and all fold to me, bringing me back over 6700 chips at this point. Here as the second break begins, I'm in 16th out of 28 players remaining, with the top 18 getting the cash. Basically, I'm going to need probably to double one more time between when Round 3 begins and when the cash hits if I expect to still be there for the payouts.

12:50am: I lose 2000 chips when this happens:

Idiot picks up two fucking pairs with a lousy Q2o against my superior hand. Did I mention how DISGUSTING pokerstars can be? Next hand I steal the blinds and am back up to 6931 chips. Next hand I steal again from the cutoff with KQs, and am up to 8100 chips, and then the very next hand I steal again with K-10s. Up to 9381 chips, in 12th place out of 28 players remaining still.

12:54am: I lose ANOTHER 3200 chip pot when this happens:

I mean come on, just when we're nearing the money and these plays are taking on extreme importance, suddenly I'm losing every one in stoopid fashion, including this domination when my A-10o fails to hold up against the short stack's Q5o. This is the same zobo who just took a pot off me with his Q2o against my K-10o. What the FRUCK is pokerstars trying to do to me here? And yet SOMEHOW I am still in this thing with over 8000 chips. Has Anyone ever stolen as many pots as I have tonight? Seriously.

12:55am: OK this is FUCKING ABSURD Now my JJ just lost for a huge pot of about 5000 chips to the same zobo's AKo:

WHAT THE FLYING FUCK?!!! If they were going to refuse to give me a chance in this thing all along, then why string me along for 2 1/2 hours just to do it? I don't get it.

12:56am: And I am out mercifully in 27th place. In what I think of as extreme irony, this time:

MY K-10o failed to hold up against the SAME FUCKING ZOBO in perfect steal position, who happened to have AJo.

I'm glad I have the screen shots to show of all this. The manner in which I just went from heading for a money finish to completely out of the tournament is Just. Not. Right. One or two beats is one thing. But 4 or 5 beats in the span of 6 minutes when I was the Fucking Favorite in every one of them, that is just plain looptid. Especially given that the beneficiary of Every Single One of these places was this same mule named HTrain. I'm feeling mighty bitter right now. If I find out that HTrain works for pokerstars or is dating someone who works there, honestly I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. Would you?! Better log off before I go tilting off 3 or 4 buyins in a quest to make myself feel better. F this.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Live Blog -- Party 40k Guaranteed Tournament

I tried this once before and really enjoyed doing it, so here goes:

Party 40k guaranteed tournament.
Total players: 2188
First prize: $9190

10:20pm: First hand of the tourney, I am dealt KK. This never happens with me! Better yet, some guy ends up putting me allin after 4 back-and-forth raises and reraises, and he flips QQ. Flop is no help to either player, and I double up on hand #1. Boy I love when that happens!

10:34pm: I haven't played a hand since the first one where I doubled up. Haven't even had the chance to bully around with my big stack. Hoping this run will change soon.

10:39pm: I raise to 3x with AQs in early position. 5 callers (!), and I have to fold when I don't hit the flop at all and someone bets and another player calls.

10:51pm: Haven't seen a single hand to even take to a flop in the past 12 minutes. This is so far the wrong tournament to pick to live blog, but hopefully it will improve. Right now I am still at 5600 chips with an average stack of just under 4000, with 1688 players remaining out of the 2188 who started.

11:00pm: Still seen only 2 flops out of 28 hands dealt. 5450 chips as the top of the hour passes.

11:09pm: I steal raise in the BB with J-10o, and get called despite my 4x bet by the SB, the only other caller in the hand. Flop brings a Q and a K, so when the SB moves in for the rest of his short stack, I feel compelled to call with my largeish stack. He has top pair with a 9 kicker, and it holds up as my straight fails to hit, despite me pairing my Jacks on the turn. This hand costs me about a third of my stack. I'm pissed.

11:10pm: I raise in 8th position with KQs, get just one caller with a smallish stack. The flop brings two of my suit, I get in cheap, and then the turn brings the Ace of my suit, giving me the nut flush. I move in and manage to get two callers, one of whom is just an idiot with top pair medium kicker, but the other one has two pairs and rivers a miracle boat when the board pairs on the end. I'm down to 2342 chips now, against an average stack of 5539. I'm looking for the quick double up soon if at all possible, or I risk fading from relevance quickly in this tournament.

11:15pm: I raise to 4x with 55 in middle position. One guy in late position calls me. Flop comes 446. I like this flop as there are only two cards my opponent could have (other than a pocket pair) which would fit at all with this flop. I decide to raise, instead of the obvious push since half of my remaining chips are already in this pot. This apparently was enough to convince my opponent that he had the best hand, as he quickly pushed, and I even more quickly called, and he flipped AQs. My pocket pair held up, and I'm back up to 4984 chips. That was just the double-up I was looking for.

11:20pm: The first break is here. I enter the break with 4784 chips (thank you Big Blind in the last hand of the round!), versus an average stack of 6186 chips. 1057 of the original 2188 entrants remain in the tournament after one hour of play. I've had a serious roller coaster ride so far, with a couple of ups and downs, and at one really bad beat. Here's hoping for another quick doubleup near the beginning of Round 2. Some early pocket Aces would be nice too.

11:28pm: I raise to 6x from the cutoff with just one limper in front of me, holding 77. After a nervous moment inside my head, everyone folds to me, putting my stack back over 5000 at 5234, with an average stack of close to 6600.

11:32pm: I'm in 50th place out of 247 remaining in the pokerstars $5 turbo tournament. Top 135 players get paid, so I'm hoping to stick around until that point. I have moneyed in probably 4 out of my last 5 of these, so I figure I have a decent shot of making the cash from here.

11:40pm: AQs holds up against two callers and I win a 2500 chip pot when the board comes Queen high against my opponent's A-10o.

11:41pm: Very next hand, I steal the blinds with just two high cards. Now up to 7782 chips. Average stack is still ahead of me at just over 8500.

11:43pm: I raise it 3.5x from middle position with A7s preflop when it is checked around to me. A few of the remaining players hesitate, but all fold. Now 8382 chips, just under the average holding.

11:44pm: At the first break in my pokerstars $5 turbo tournament, there are just 174 out of 1453 original entrants remaining, and I am in 11th place overall with 27,895 chips. I doubled up hugely on the last hand before the break when my pocket Kings held up over my opponent's pocket 7s that he insisted on moving allin with despite my preflop raise to indicate strength (or the hammer). Incidentally, the flop on that hand was 772, the best hammer flop there is (I suppose arguably 722 is even more hammery, but still). So I am just 39 places out of the money in that turbo tournament, which given the structure of the pokerstars turbo $5 tourney, should take no more than 10 minutes or so into Round 2 to reach. Hopefully I'll still be there to get my $2 profit on the $5 investment.

11:47pm: Lost around 2000 chips when my second pair on a flop of 289 is bested by my opponent's top pair, with both of us checking it through to the end after all the betting was done on the flop. Back down to 6582 chips.

11:55pm: Well I've made the cash in the 5th out of my last 6 of these $5 turbo tournaments on pokerstars. With 132 players remaining, I am in 12th place with just over 37,000 chips. Meanwhile I am down to 595 players remaining in the Party 40k guaranteed tourney, with an average stack size of slightly more than 11,000. I'm needing another big win pretty soon, as my 6500 stack is looking smaller and smaller every hand.

11:56: Dealt KK in the Party tournament in the BB. Guy in the cutoff position raises big, so I reraise and he calls. Flop has an Ace, and I make the bold move of pushing with the rest of my chips, hoping he was playing a pocket pair or a low Ace that he'll fold. Turns out he has AQ, and he calls me and busts me from the tournament in 562nd place. Man I can't STAND losing with pocket Kings like that, but what can you do.

12:00am: Into the final 100 in the pokerstars $5 turbo event, with me in 24th place despite just having my A-10s beat by KJo when not one but TWO Jacks fall on the flop. Effing pokerstars.

12:07am: I'm in 14th out of 79 remaining in the $5 turbo tournament. I just stole the blinds in both my SB and then my BB back to back, with Kxo the best hand I had out of either steal. These turbo events turn into pushfests and blindstealing fests once you're down this low, so I really feel like I have no choice but to be aggressive here.

12:10am: 21st out of 58 remaining in the turbo. I haven't been able to steal any blinds or play any hands, and the blinds are coming around to me now which are going to eat away about 40% of my stack if I don't make some kind of move here.

12:12am: I'm in the BB, and the guy UTG raises just 2x. It is folded around to me, I have A9s, and I decide to push, since what I've seen from the UTG guy is that his smallish raise probably indicates not much. Hee-Haw of course calls, and flips Ad4s. Fortunately, no 4 came on the board. Unfortunately, FOUR FUCKING SPADES come, with the last two hitting runner-runner at the end, and I am unceremoniously booted from the tournament in 52nd place out of 1453 entrants. The payout is $18.17 for my $5 buyin, so I'm happy with my performance. But it's hard to be calm or accepting of a loss like that. Sometimes I feel like if I could just be in charge of overseeing the pokerstars "random number generator" or whatever it is called these days, I might be a millionaire by now from all the fish on this site. But instead, I have to be content with my $13 profit and the knowledge that I made a fool out of yet another fish, who then sugged on me to burn me out of a tournament in which I should be on my way to the final table. These runnerrunnerrunnerrunner flushes and straights have GOT to go. Bitches.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Another Big MTT Score

Since my last post, the poker play has been a bit infrequent compared to what I've gotten used to, but at least equally positive, on a couple of different fronts.

On PokerStars, I am 2 for 3 in 1-table sng's ($9 or $12 buyins) since the weekend.

On Full Tilt, I have really turned things around in my 18-person, $6 buyin sng's. If you recall, the top 4 finishers in this setup all get the $26 token first prize, and that's the token that can be used to enter most of ftp's smaller guaranteed tournaments. My original plan was to at *least* get the 4/18 chance of cashing in those tournaments, so I could as a rule win my way into the guaranteed tourneys without having to pay the $26 buyin fee in most cases. On my last update, I was 3 out of 14 in terms of cashes in these events, putting me just below that 4/18 (22.2%) average rate, so I was a bit discouraged at the time. Now, however, I am happy to report that I have gone on an absolute tear, cashing in my last 3 of these sngs, and bringing my total score now to 6 out of 17 tournaments entered. This equates to a more than 35% conversion rate, which I am very pleased about, especially given where I started off after 8 or 9 of these things. And I've had two or three $26 tokens just sitting around now since 3 or 4 days ago, including playing in one or two of the token tournaments, which I quickly replenished from another sng.

But the bigger news for my game lately came on Sunday night. On a whim I entered the $11 buyin nlh tourney on Party at 10:30pm ET, only because I had literally just logged on at 10:29 and saw this tournament about to start. There were 535 entrants in all, making for a solid payout structure and more than a grand to the top couple of finishers. I slogged through the first couple of rounds, tacking on a few chips, but really just managing to tread water and avoid the early go-out that's been plaguing me more than usual just recently. Shortly after the first break came my first double-up, which I got with an AQ against an A9 (fish alert!) when a single ace came on the flop, I slow-checked, he moved in thinking he was in the lead, and quickly he was gone. I then treaded through most of the second round as well, managing another near-double near the end of the round when someone moved in on my top two pairs with nothing but the Fish Lover's Special (open end straight draw), and I actually managed to hold on to my lead since this wasn't pokerstars. I entered the third hour of the tournament solidly up on the leaderboard, and managed to use my big stack and a couple of well-timed pocket rockets to chip up even further, getting into the top 10 or so near the end of the round after crossing into the money positions (60 remaining) a few minutes into round #3. When I saw myself right near the top with only around 35 players left, that was the first time that I really thought I might be able to make some serious noise in this thing.

As I have been able to survive very deep into the cash in more and more multi table tournaments, and make 4 or 5 final tables now over the past couple of months, I have learned that at some point it makes sense to actually scale the aggression back a bit, in particular if you have a sizeable stack and can withstand some folds in marginal situations where you might otherwise be inclined to make a risky call or a superaggressive raise. Using this strategy, and yet still pushing hard with my strongest hole cards, I managed to make it to my first MTT final table in March:

As you can see, I entered the final table with around an average chip stack. Despite beginning squarely in the middle of the pack, I managed to push some people out of some pots, and at that point the blinds were already so large that this helped push me back up near the chip leaders. In fact, as people started to drop from the final table, I took my first chip lead of the table with just six players remaining:

Unfortunately, that chip lead was very short-lived, as two hands later saw me pick up JJ in the SB. I raised it up 4x, one person with a medium-sized stack reraised me allin, and I felt I had to call given where I was at, and the relative crap I'd seen this guy play for about the last 20 hands he had to show anything. In this case, he flipped up AJo, and immediately on the flop came the Ace, dooming me once and for all and basically crippling me out of the tournament. I went out on the next hand when my KJo was bested by the new big stack's 57o, what else is new as far as a way to go out of one of these tournaments. Nonetheless, my 6th place finish out of 535 entrants into the $11 buyin event on Sunday netted me a nice $220 payday:

and here is the scoreboard as of just seconds after my elimination:

Additionally, in the DADI IV event this evening, I stole and stole and stole and stole and stole and stole and stole without picking up more than one premium hand in the entire night, and eventually went out in 13th place out of 57 entrants, another respectable showing for me. I would have liked to do better, but I got my opponent allin preflop with my AQo against his 22, and Of Course the 2's held up, so it's hard for me to feel too bad about it. And I must have busted about half of the bloggers I know and read regularly, so that part was especially fun. And, I played and won (and showed) the Hammer on four separate occasions in the DADI tourney, which we all know is what it's all about in the end.

In all, a big time performances from me in the big MTT, the pokerstars sngs and the ftp satellite sngs definitely has me feeling pretty good about my game. Let's just hope that can continue as long as possible from here.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lots and Lots of Losing

Last night was a baaaaaaad night of poker. Although the total loss was not so great, I must have entered six or seven different tournaments, and didn't last more than 30 minutes or so in any of them. I could not believe it while it was happening. On one or two of the beats, in particular some of the later ones because my frame of mind was already significantly worsened by the first few beats, I will take personal responsibility for. In one case I pushed too hard with AJs after not seeing a hand for quite some time. On another occasion I moved in on someone I was "sure" was weak, and they turned out not only not to be weak, but to have pocket Aces. C'est la vie, mais il sucks.

Other than the two beats I mentioned above, however, I also suffered several flat out bad beats and stoopid river pulls. I'd love to blog here about the two worst, and I'd be interested in any thoughts that anyone has if I played these hands wrong or could have played them better:

Hand #1: As those of you who have played with me (blogger tournaments or otherwise) will certainly know, I often play the hammer, sooted or otherwise. I won't call an allin raise with it, but I'll play it if it makes sense, and even raise with it when it seems like the thing to do. Well, I experienced a first last night. I had my first-ever hammer flop when I was playing the hammer:

Not quite the 772 flop you really hope for when playing the big H, but cripes, I'm The Hammer Player for crying out loud, I have to play it, and finally for the First Time Ever I was about to drop the hammer with a hammer flop and bust somebody. I bet 300 on the flop with my 2 pairs against this donklestiltskin, and he called. Then on the turn I bet another 500, and he called again. When the flop came an Ace of Hearts on the river, I moved in, knowing of course he didn't have two hearts since there was only one on the flop and he couldn't POSSIBLY have been calling me with just a backdoor flush draw. Well, he quick called, and turned over...A-10 of hearts. The Ultimate Donkey Draw right there, calling my flop bet with just A-10 high, and then calling again on the turn with the same A-10 high, plus now the backdoor flush draw. And then of course hitting that draw. So I STILL have never gotten paid off with a hammer flop while I'm holding the hammer. That one KILLED me.

Shortly after that, I limp into a hand from the BB with A3o, just checking preflop with two other callers in ahead of me. The flop comes K55. I consider this a good flop for me in that there are only two cards (a King or a Five) that my opponents could be holding to have hit a piece of this flop. But nonetheless, I've got nothing and not even a good kicker with my Ace, so I'm not doing anything dramatic with this hand. I check and it's checked around. The turn comes a rainbow 2. So now, with no flush draws out there, my hand is still technically decent, but again with nothing but now an inside straight draw, I'm not doing anything. Still, given the checks previously, I bet out small, about 3/4 the size of the pot. First opponent calls, second guy folds. So I'm putting this guy on maybe a low pair, maybe a King, *possibly* a 5 if he's really tricky, but more likely than anything else, I'm thinking just a high Ace or even QJ or something like that. I wasn't too scared, but not a lot of money was in the pot at that point, and I still knew I wasn't going to sink much more in there at that point. Well, the river brought the 3 of clubs, hitting my miraculous inside straight. I decided to bet small again, figuring he might raise if he did have something big like a high King or, better yet, hopefully a 5 that he was slow playing. I bet about 3/4 the size of the pot again. He immediately goes in the tank. In fact, he waited (purposely, it seemed to me at the time) until there was less than one second left before reraising me allin. Now, at this point I'm thinking, there's no flush draw out there, so the only realistic hand I have to worry about with my straight is a boat. He hasn't bet this like a boat so far, and the only holdings he could have to fill that boat are K5, 53 or 52, all of which are possible, but none of which seem particularly likely. To be honest, at this point I'm figuring him for either KQ, AK, or possibly a 5, and he's been slow playing and now wants to see if I'm a donkey. Well, asshole, I'm not the donkey, you donkey! I quick call, flip my straight, and...

He flips up KK.

Jeesus H. Christ. I could not catch a single break last night. Let's just hope tonight works out better than yesterday. Variance can be a real bizznotch some days.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Poker Latest

Hey I'm back after a week of jury duty has kept me out of blogging commission for a few days. Nothing like being holed up in a room for 9 hours a day and then having to come home every night and do a whole day's full of work in the few hours you have before bed. Never mind spending some quality time with the wife and kids. In any event, I'm back and all should return to normal now.

So, pokerwise, let's see what has happened since my last post. One of the most important things to me is that I have gotten my average up in terms of cashing in the 18 person sng's on ftp. If you recall that is where the top 4 finishers in the $6 buyin events each get a $26 token. I had been 1 out of 11 in cashing last week, but since then I've cashed in 2 of the 3 sngs I've entered, bringing my total up to 3 out of 14. That is around 21%, which is at least close to the 22% number that represents the 4 out of 18 players who cash in each tournament, so I'm much happier than I was with those results, although I'd still like to top out at around 30% or more for this sng all told. Unfortunately, I haven't had the time with the jury duty and working late to actually use any of those tokens yet, but at least now I have two saved up and will be able to use them in one of ftp's nightly tournaments sooner or later.

Next, WWdN. Last Thursday evening, I entered the 11:30pm ET feeling a little tired going in, and I ended up finishing in 7th place, making my second WWdN final table in a week, but not managing to cash as it was a smallish tournament that only paid the top 3 finishers. Still, I continue to be pleased with my progress in Wil's weekly games. Then, last night, with 85 entrants, I made it to the final 18, I was playing great, and then this happened:

I coerced not one but two other players to call my allin (I was shortstacked at the time) with my full house on the turn. And what happens? The guy hits a miracle two-outer on the river to take me down. Oh well. Another great performance in WWdN, but still no cash to show for it. The frustration is palpable.

More later....

Friday, March 03, 2006


Redonkulous. That is the only word I can think of to describe what happened tonight in the latest WWdN West Coast tournament. First of all, I played really well. So well, that I was in first place with 13 people left in the tourney, and this despite me suffering not one but TWO hideous river beats against A Fish Called Quantloos, both of which saw him call me on the flop or turn with what he was sure was the best hand, but was in reality a significantly dominating favorite in my hand, and yet one produced a river flush and the other a river inside straight for Nemo, each hitting me up for a hard, hard loss. So despite the donking around from this Quantloos fella, I was also in first place with 12 people left in the tourney, and I was in first place with 10 people left in the tourney. I was also in first place with 8 people left, and with 7 players remaining.

With 7 players left, I am dealt A-10 of clubs. I raise 4x the BB from early position, and only Quantloos "Le Poisson" calls my raise. Flop comes 10-8-7 rainbow. Unless The Fish has a high pocket pair, which is not at all how he played this hand thus far, then I am in front here. I bet small, about 1/3 the size of the pot, just to dupe this guy that I've already duped twice tonight into betting big into a pot in which he is significantly dominated. Well, this guy was silly putty in my hands tonight, as every move I put on him worked, and this one was no exception as Quantloos called my small bet. Then the turn came an Ace, also rainbow, and a great card for me theoretically as it increases the chance of my fishponent having made something with the hand, while also giving me an almost unbeatable hand, with what is now top two pairs. Nonetheless, I bet fairly small again, just to complete the total fuckup I just let loose on this clownfish, and he moves in on me. I quick call and see the spoils of my victory of outplaying this zobo handily, as he flips A9, a significant, once again dominated underdog to my top two pairs with A-10 at this point.

But never fear, the river came a Jack, and this jackidiot had once AGAIN made a straight on me at the river to relieve me of all my chips.

Quantloos went on to win the tournament tonight, because after donking my chips away from me, he had a huge, insurmountable chip lead, and he quickly dispatched the other remaining players after I was robbed out of the tournament in 7th place. Despite his big win tonight, I IMPLORE you all to PLEASE tell me the next time you see him on pokerstars. I have GOT to get in his game with him. I mean this is the worst player I've EVER seen win a tournament of any size on any online site. He should take his winnings and invest in a poker training session and/or a poker book.

As always with the WWdN, I have plenty of witnesses to verify my version of what happened above. I got rizznooked is what happened.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

End of Month Update

As my regular readers know, 2006 thus far has been a much better year poker-wise for my bankroll than 2005 proved to be. January saw me make my first three final tables in genuine MTTs (more than, say, 10 tables), winning one, coming in 4th in another, and 6th place in the third. February has not had those specific bright spots that January had as far as the three MTT final tables over 10 days, but February was still my best month overall in playing online, other than January which managed to just eke out February (not counting tonight's games, of course, but I am assuming, hopefully, that I won't go on supertilt and donk off the entirety of my remaining bankroll on three different poker sites this evening). So, my last two months of online play have far and away been my two best months profit-wise, and that fact alone is worthy of some good feelings as far as I am concerned.

My big story for February was the party million dollar guaranteed tournament back on the 18th, which I had qualified for by winning a $10 satellite in January. For my $10 satellite buyin, I got to play in the largest-buyin regular tournament offered by *any* of the poker sites which I frequent. At first I was very intimidated at the thought of playing against a field full of high-buyin tournament players and people who won MTT satellites to get their seat to the million dollar tourney, but as the day approached I became much calmer, and almost happy by tourney day that I would finally get my wish of not playing in a field full of donkeys for the first time ever online for me. I ended up playing really, really solid poker, ensuring that I didn't donk off too much on any one hand if I was semi-bluffing or just sure that I was beat, and I cashed in 203rd place out of 1830 entrants for a nice payday of $764.40. So February not only included my first appearance in one of the big regular tournaments, but my largest-yet single tournament payoff of $764. Otherwise, I had four top-50 finishes in February in MTTs of more than 1500 players, and another 6 finishes between #50 and #100, so I was very pleased with those performances as well. Even though the payouts are not so great in those spots, every little bit can go a long way towards a winning month in that those payouts can pay for the next few buyins for similar-sized tournaments that I enter. Specifically, I also became quite adept at turbo sng's and turbo tournaments generally during February, which was an area that I had expressly avoided up to this past month online. And of course, I made my first WWdN final table also during February, as blogged about earlier in the month, so that's all goodness for me.

In all, here are some personal summary tournament stats that I find interesting, and really hope (and expect) to improve on in the coming months:

1. PS 180 sng's: Played a lifetime total of 20 for a $440 expenditure. Cashed in 1 of the 20 only, a 4th place finish in mid-January for a payout of $288. So I'm down about $150 in that 180 sng structure overall, although that of course is only temporary since I'll be winning that tournament tonight and taking myself well into positive territory there.

2. Party 40k guaranteed tournament: I have played in 5 of these, all in February, and I just cashed in my first one last night, coming in 141st place out of 2311 entrants: . So, I've spent $110 and gotten back $31, for another loss (also only temporary, of course!)

3. Full Tilt 15k and 20k guaranteed: I have played in 3 of these tournaments, failing to cash yet in any. That is $78 down the drain with nothing to show for it other than some regoddamdigulous bad beats in late stages near the cash. I vow to cash in at least one of those daily ftp tournaments in March.

4. FTP 18-person sng's for $6, with the top 4 finishers getting $26 tokens to use in things like the daily guaranteed tournaments mentioned above. This is a structure which seems custom-made for a tight aggressive guy such as myself, and I figured going in that at an absolute minimum I should be cashing in 4/18 or 22% of these that I enter, since the top 4 out of 18 players receive the $26 token. Nonetheless, I am currently just 1 for 8 in cashing in those sng's, and to this day I can't figure out or explain why. I've been playing great poker but something always seems to happen, or I fail to pick up on an opponent's slow play of flopped quads, something like that. All I know is, ONE top-four finish out of 8 attempts in an 18-person sng where I feel like the best player at the table is wholly unacceptable, and I will be changing that shortly. Ideally I intend to use that sng to win enough $26 tokens that I can always do the nightly guaranteed tournaments using an existing token.

5. WWdN: In 9 of these tournaments, I have been the first one out once, the second one out once, I have final tabled once (going out in 7th eventually), and all the other times I have finished at or better than in the top 40th percentile or so among the players. I've definitely been playing better just lately which is great, but so far I've lost $99 playing in this tournament too, so again I have a lot of areas for improvement as we head into March.

The important thing overall is that January was my best month ever after a dismal 2005, and February was right up there with January. I'm through barely 1/6 of 2006, and I've already reached my #1 goal of winning an MTT, and I've had three significant cashes in large tournaments to boot (significant for the bankroll I choose to devote to online poker, anyways). I just need to keep hammering on doing the right things, and keep the tiltmonster at bay, where he has been basically since the new year when things seem to have started turning around for me.

See y'all tonight at the final table of the latest WWdN. And don't forget to congratulate Wil Wheaton for his performance at the WPT Invitational last week!