Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Huge Win on PartyPoker

So last night was a really interesting time for me, as I tried out a brand new tournament for the first time. I got bad beat really annoyingly in the 45-person turbo $11 sng on ps, and just logged off and found myself on partypoker instead to see what was going on there. I did a Ministep 1 tourney that I had a free token for, and I won the event fairly quickly, getting myself a free $20 buyin into a ministep 2 tourney. To celebrate my win, I decided to enter the next large nlh tournament that Party had available, which turned out to be the $11 satellite to the Million Dollar Guarantee tournament on February 18. For what its worth, I have never even done reasonably well in any multi-table tournament on party. I've maybe played in 4 or 5 party tourneys with more than 1 table, and been knocked out before the first break in every single one. Typically in the first half hour in fact. I attribute it to me just not being very used to the party interface, along with some laughably bad luck of course, including a few unreal beats of the runner runner type and the runnerrunnerrunnerrunner variety as well. But I do very well in the 1 table sngs on party, so I dont think anything sinister about their tournaments. It's just that, despite the 6th out of 800 players in the $10 ps tourney on January 18, and then the 4th out of 180 in the ps $20 sng on january 27th, I still dont exactly go into the party tournaments with much optimism, lets just leave it at that.

Anyways, the tournament started off well, as I saw 27% of flops through the first break, and as with ps, I typically have very little trouble making it through the first half in these tournaments, because if you're just tight and play your good cards well, that there is enough to withstand the first 100 people or so very easily usually. I did my share of bluffing during the first break, but it was mostly waiting for the strong hands and then playing them solidly. The story was more of the same in Round 2 of the tournament, the first Round 2 I've ever seen on any large tournament on party. As with my big final table in the 180 sng from earlier this weekend, I started charging a bit harder around the right time, with about 50 players left as things started to get tighter with most of the players beginning to think about the cash. It's a little known secret, but to *really* make some noise in these large tournaments, you have to start putting some moves on once you're in the top 50 or so, or you're just not going to be able to get where you need to be. I got involved in a lot of pots, having won an incredible 21% of the hands in which I had been involved through the first 95 minutes of the tournament. I don't remember a lot of specific hands, but with 20 people left I found KQ in my hand, and raised it 3x to start. Just the BB called, and the flop came KQ7 with 2 clubs. I bet my top two pairs strong, and got a fairly quick call, giving me a clear vibe of a nut flush draw or possible open end straight draw. The turn brought a third club, which definitely concerned me, and in fact I would have probably folded if the guy had pushed hard at me. Instead, he checked, and I took the free card, mostly to ensure that I didn't further trap myself after I got that vibe of a possible made flush. The beautfiul, beautfiul river for once brought me some help - a second King, giving me a gorgeous boat, and I went immediatley from hoping my opponent hadn't made the flush to hoping to gorsh that he had. I thought for a while and then made a sizeable bet on the river, just big enough to mean business, but deliberately small enough to entice a reraise from some kind of a made hand. The guy took the bait, moved in, and I quick called and saw that I had, in fact, beaten the nut flush that filled on the turn. That hand jumped me up from like 7th to 2nd place overall with 19 players remaining. That's always fun.

Anyways it turns out that party goes hand-for-hand starting at 18 people in this tournament, even though only the top 5 people got payouts in this thing. I found that to be impossibly annoying. The good news is that although things got real tight when down to 2 tables, it was still not nearly to the level of tightness as I have seen in the final 2 tables in the 2 ps tournaments ive made it deep in. Anyways, with 16 people left, im still in 2nd place, and I get dealt aces. Now you know me, for ME to get dealt ACES (or ANY high pocket pair) that late in a tournament, it is just insanely rare man, and it was my first inkling that i could actually make it real deep in this thing, that the gods might be smiling on me again tonight, for the second time in a weekend. I raised it up a bit, got one of the shorter stacks to move in, and I smiled ear to ear at my computer as even someone ELSE called his allin bet ahead of me. I pushed and the third guy folded to avoid elimination by the #2 stack left. He flips AKo, and my AA holds up for a huge victory and vaulting me into 1st place out of 14 people left.

Shortly before the third break, we are down to 11 people, and I have recently slipped to 3rd place overall. That's when the game screws down REAL tight. Everyone wants the final table for their chance at the top 2 spots for the $640 entry into the million dollar guaranteed tournament. So we had to wait around for a good long while, probably a good 25 hands or so where nobody moved in with anything. I forced myself to be aggressive at this crucial time of extreme tightness, and managed to add probably 20% to my stack at this point, getting myself back up to 2nd place with 11 remaining, just ahead of third and with a nice cushion above 4th place. Anyways, finally the shortest stack, which at the time was like $12,000, moves in with A9, is called with AK, and its over, I'm at the final table, my THIRD final table in a large online tournament in the past ten days! From the picture you will see me in 3rd out of 10 at that point (I am Hoyazo).

Unfortunately I dont remember tons of the details from the final table. Ut was 2:30 in the morning by the time the final table began, and I was wide awake, but kind of residually tired at the same time. As it is I had already endured two separate periods of about 15 or 20 minutes long where I had to combat falling asleep right in my chair at the computer. But I persevered, and there I was. We immediately took the 3rd break within 5 minutes of the final table being set, I ran and got a beer, and got myself psyched up to continue my streak of making at least the top 6 of each final table I've ever made it to, whether live or online. One thing i DO remember about that final table is that, just like on ps last thursday night, I went pretty much card dead, with the exception of ONE hand, where I got AA AGAIN! In the final 18 and AGAIN on the final table, it's unheard of for me, I know! Thanks to this one good hand, the aces, at the final table, I was able to knock out one of the short stacks. At the time he was the 8th guy left in the tournament, so my aces knocked it down to 7 people remaining.

Although I was excited as all getout and was playing great, I forgot to mention that only the top 5 finishers got paid ANYthing in this tournament, so though I was feeling good, I had absolutely nothing to show for it yet. The payouts were that the top 2 finishers get the $640 entry into the million guaranteed tourney in a few weeks. There wasn't enough in the prize pool to fund a 3rd entry (missed that by ONE entry in fact), so 3rd place got $315, 4th paid $189 and 5th paid $126. To tell the truth, I only really wanted that 3rd place payment anyways, since I don't really belong in a $640 buyin, million dollar guaranteed tournament, right? OK so I'm in 7th place, and my card deadness continues, other than the one AA hand I received. I didn't see another pocket pair out of the last 130 hands played, expect for my 2 pocket As. Otherwise nothing. A few minutes go by with 7 people left, and I look down to see AJo. But, before I can raise it up, first position raises it up about 4x, and then second position moves allin. I fold quickly, last position ALSO ends up moving allin, and all fold but the two original bettors who are both already allin as well at this point. The guy in last position went on to win the entire pot with KK and a K on the flop, and we're down to 5 left, so ive made the money for my third big tourney final table this month!! As I mentioned, 5th place paid $126 for an $11 buyin, so I was thrilled already, but at the same time, I was overcome with this feeling that I really wanted to take advantage of this rare opportunity at a final table, and I was determined, much moreso than even my prior two final tables this month, to really make this one count. Despite my terrible starting cards for the most part, I was a blind stealing machine throughout the final table. At that level it's like a good $4000 a pop to steal, so I stole every time it was folded to me, almost without regard to my position. I would raise it up with nothing from first position for a 10k raise, and watch em fold in front of me. I reraised huge in middle position with just two run-of-the-mill high cards because the guy in second position had limped and I sensed weakness that he wouldnt want to call a big bet with. Stuff like that. I stole a LOT of pots at the final table, just like with the other 2 final tables ive been in recently. At that point in these large tournaments, it really does become a survival thing and a blind stealing thing. Anyways, with 5 people left, I was in the SB at one point, it was folded to me, and I see A8s. I raise it small, figuring I probably have the best hand here. My opponent moves in on me, figuring me for a steal with my small raise, and I call him and see him flip QJo. Not a pure bluff on his part, but not a smart bet either given that I had already raised it, representing higher cards than his. Although I was ahead on this hand throughout, my ace pairs on the turn, and he is done.

At that point im still in 2nd out of 4 remaining, and am flipping out. 4th place, so im already getting the second high cash payout of $189, and it occurs to me that this is now tied for the furthest ive ever been in an online tournament this big (I also came in 4th the other day in the ps 180 sng). Just a few hands later, the then short stack moves in and is called by the massive chipleader, with the short guy showing JJ and the chipleader flipping KQ. But my disappointment quickly turned to elation as a queen came on the flop, no jacks came for help, and I was down to 2nd place out of 3 remaining, just one spot away from the grand prize. We played several hands, I stole quite a bit of money when I got the chipleader to fold a sizable preflop bet to me on a flop of AK7 (2 spades), where I held absosmurfly NOTHING but could tell that he didn't either, and since I had position, I made him pay. Here is what the final table looked like after about 15 hands of three-handed play. We all got within a couple thousand of each other at one point I remember, because we were chatting about how close it was just then.

Now at this point im faced with an actual decision. I'm sitting there thinking I REALLY probably do prefer to go out in 3rd place and get the big cash infusion, rather than the automatic entry into the bigazz tourney next month. I don't even know what their policy is, if they would even let me trade in my $640 tournament entry into $640 cash instead, and I just dont feel quite ready to be playing in a tournament full of people with either $640 to burn, or people who won a large tournament like mine to get in. I figure the competition in that tourney would be like 75% solid players, something which I'm not even close to used to. I've played in Vegas and AC several times, but still nothing that I would think is all big tourney winners like this one would be. So anyways, I figure now is my time to get aggressive, because I might be too pussy to be ready to play in that tournament anyways, so I'll just take a chance and go for broke and see what happens. So a few hands later in 3-handed, I'm the BB, the third guy folds, SB limps, and I just check with 36o. And the flop comes 3K6 rainbow. He checks, i bet 5x BB ($10,000 at that point). He thinks for a few minutes and moves in on me. I ponder for maybe 4 seconds and call, figuring I'm up against King-Ten or a similar hand, or possibly pocket aces. He flips KJo. My 2 pairs hold up. And suddenly I'm in second place with 2 remaining. I won one of the two $640 tourney buyins!! As you can see from this picture, at that point I was down in chips more than 2 to 1 to the chip leader, and I asked him in the chat if there was any reason for us to care who wins at that point, since we both get the $640 buyin. A second after that picture was taken, he responded with "not really". So, being that it WAS 3:10 in the morning and since there was nothing left to play for, I immediately moved in with the K5 suited you see there, and he called with A6, and his aces held up so I officially came in second, but shared the top prize with the other top 2 finisher. That picture is the final leaderboard, with the popup in the bottom left from party saying I had come in 2nd and won the entry into the big tournament.

I look at the clock...fuckin 3:10am. I know I am SUPPOSED to be sleepy as ballz, and I know I need to get up for work within just a few short hours, so I tried to go to sleep right after that, but it took a while to wind down. Big tournament-wise, I am playing my best poker ever. I mean, you still cannot avoid the bad beats, but now this is 3 final tables in events at least 180 people in the last 12 days, and 2 final tables in the 180-200 person range in the last 4 days. Obviously this pace won't continue, but I definitely feel like my strategy and style of play cannot be questioned at this point as far as whether or not it works. And I'm playing differently than I used to in some subtle yet significant ways. Like i said, I'll still get bad beat, and just get flat out beat or make a stoopid move sometimes of course, all the time out of tournaments, but as a general statement my play is progressing very well. I am focusing hard on staying tight and playing my good hands aggressive in the early rounds, and i am doing a GREAT job of getting progressively more aggressive in raising blinds and bluffers out of larger pots as the structure increases. And lately I have been stellar in final 1 or 2 table play, not getting many cards but still managing to take the money down WAY more often than I should. Last night, i ended up winning 18% of the total hands i saw the Entire Night. Think about that. I was 9 or 10 handed for about 85% of those hands I saw, and was only below 5 handed for a VERY small proportion of the tourney, and yet I ended up winning almost 1/5 of the total hands I was at the table for over the entire time. That is an awesome stat to me. I saw 20% of flops all told by the time the thing was done with, also FAR above my average, where I've been trending around 10-12% in all of my ps events, including my recent final tables over there.
And I've also been playing MUCH tighter once im near the big money, something which I don't recall ever consciously doing before, even in my live games when I've made final tables before. I mean, it's 5 handed at the final table, I'm in second position with AJo, but the first guy raises it to 4 the BB. I'm out at that point. early on, I might call that bet with AJo if its not too large a bet, but at this point, no way. I've been folding A9, A10, AJ, even some top pair poor kickers on the flop when we're in the late stages and I still have some chips left to do some damage with, all situations where I would be likely to call in most shorthanded situations, like if I was playing a cash nlh game with only 5 people around the table.

So, next time you're on partypoker, look under "tournaments" and then "special", and look in mid february for the next million dollar guaranteed tournament. It's -February 18 at 4:30pm ET. You'll see my name (Hoyazo) registered there, it is up to 180 people already when I checked tonight, and I bet will be well over 1000 by the time the weekend of february 18 rolls around. I figure I have NO realistic chance whatsoever of doing anything serious in that tourney unless I get some sickly solid cards, but hey you never know. I could definitely use the moral support during the tourney if anyone wants to chat with me while the event is going on.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another MTT Milestone

Tonight started off much like most of the last two weeks' worth of poker for me on pokerstars. I played a 6x$12 sng to warm up, and went out in 3rd, missing the money by one place, when my A9 lost to KQ on the river. I recognize that I didn't have a huge lead heading into the flop in that hand, but the fact remains that I was ahead 60% to 39%, and the consistency with which I seem to lose these "close" favorites is really striking. In any event, I only tell this story to paint the picture of things starting off much like usual last night.

In keeping with the "usual" theme, my next move was to go and donate my $20 to the 180 person sng on pokerstars. This would be my sixteenth 180 sng on ps, with me not finishing higher than the mid-30s in any of them. In keeping with various bloggers' statements about the fishiness of this particular tournament, I have found it very easy to make the top half in these 180 sngs, fairly easy to make the top third (60 or so remaining), but have had a lot of trouble surviving from the 70 or so range at the first break until the next 30 or 40 players have been eliminated. So, things started off fairly actiony for me yesterday, in that I saw 27% of flops during the first hour of the tournament, managing to double up just one time near the end of the round when my KK survived against my opponent's AJ (somehow!). Heading into the first break, I was in 48th out of 77 remaining players, feeling happy with my play (especially given how many pots I was in), but not overly so since I usually manage to enter the first intermission right around this level in these sngs.

The second session also started with a bang for me, as I limped with KJ suited, and saw a flop of K94 rainbow. I checked that flop, and an opponent who I had noted as a flop bluffer put in a relatively light bet for the flop round of just twice the big blind. I read this as weakness, but just called to keep my slow-play going of my top pair, knowing I was taking a risk of the guy sucking something out on the turn and ruining my play. Nonetheless, the turn came a complete rag, and I checked, thinking I still had to have the best hand. My opponent put in a bet of about 8x the BB. Still not a huge bet, but enough to make the pot worth winning at this point, so I thought for a few and then pushed. My opponent folded fairly fast, and I could tell he was pissed to get caught losing that many chips in the bluff. That play set me up for the next 20 or 30 hands, leaving me in the 20-40th range throughout round 2, and elevating me as close to "the zone" as I've gotten in my last 20 or so tournaments. In the remaining hands of the round, I must have picked players off of bluffs at LEAST seven or eight times. I mean, I could just TELL when they were bluffing, or semi-bluffing with second pair and would fold to a big bet, and I let my intuition take over and acted on it with absolute conviction. The Zone is wonderful like that. I not only knew people were bluffing me, but I was predicting with total accuracy the SIZE of the bluffbets they were putting out in vain attempts to deceive me. I remember at one point calling a small raise preflop with 76 suited, having me and two other callers see a flop of QJ4, checking it around, and then when the flop came a 10, I just *decided* I was going to MAKE these zobos believe I had AK. So when the first player bet small and the second guy called, I quickly moved in all my chips. By most rights a foolish play, but I'm telling you I was simply in The Zone. I KNEW these guys would fold. They WANTED to fold to me. Every pot was for me in Round 2 last night, and I went out and got them, big time. I ended round 2 in 13th out of around 30 remaining, but having won literally 21% of the total hands I had played thus far in the tournament. I was getting mucho respect at the table, and was reading people like Stephen King books. It was awesome.

My first-ever second break in a 180 sng flew by, and I got to experience for the first time the tightfest that is the 180 sng round 3. Almost no one wanted to make any moves so close to the cash, and it became much more a blind stealing contest than anything else. Although I soon realized my time in the Zone had already faded significantly thanks to the round break, I was still able to execute several blind steals in good positions. Enough to keep me in the top 18 throughought the round, and after around 140 minutes of solid playing, I reached my first ever cash in one of these 180 sngs. I ented the money positions, the top 18, in 10th place. I made a lot of nice moves once things loosened up again after we got to #18, managing to sneak into the top 10 in chips as some of the smaller stacks made their last stabs and dropped out to pick up their $43 and change for time well spent. Tired of the supertight play, near the end of the round I also played two hands overaggressively, betting large into them when I *thought* I read weakness -- hoping beyond hope to bring at least a temporary resurgence of The Zone -- but my intuition cost me much of my chippage, resulting in me being in 12th place out of 12 remaining with about 30 minutes left in round 3. I managed to hold on, picked up some good cards and stole some good blinds, enough to last to 10th out of 10 remaining, where things completely stalled for the last 25 minutes or so of the round. I mean, I did what I usually do in the final 2 tables of the big tourneys -- I opened up the other table just to watch to see if someone was allin. As is very common one spot away from the money in any multi-table event, play became extratight with no one but the small stacks really willing to push. Six different times, someone in a short stack went all in on one of our two tables and won, and we ended up reaching break #3 still knotted in tightsville at 10 players remaining.

As this post is dragging on, I will get to the point. I continued to make smart, well-timed moves as Round 4 began, and FINALLY, mercifully, someone on the other table moved in with K9s against A9o, and the short stack was knocked out. I had made my first final table in the ps 180 sng!

Things went decently well from there, and the best I did was 4th place out of 7 players remaining. I didn't see a single good hand while at the final table (I guess you could call A-10 a good hand, but it was 8-handed at the time after an EP raise AND a call, so I wouldn't write home about that), but lived off of blinds and bluffs, blinds and bluffs. Then a few short stacks went out back to back, and I was in 5th place out of 5 remaining. Then I managed to cripple 4th place when he made a terrible call (I am Hoyazo), and that guy went out shortly after, moving me into 4th place, but I was literally 25,000 chips less than anyone else remaining, and about 120,000 below the chip leader. I wasn't able to do much to any of these larger stacks, especially with no hands, and when I looked down to see 77 and a raise in front of me, I moved in with it. And lost to the chip leader's 88.

As with my final table in the large $10 tourney last week, I could not be happier overall with my performance. That makes two top 20's in sizeable MTTs in the last two weeks, both of which I managed to turn into final tables, and decent runs at the final table at that. I didn't get many good cards after the first round in this tourney but still played a very calm, cool and collected game. And although this is still January, I inched ever closer to my 2006 yearly goal of winning an MTT online. After no final tableage in all of 2005, my first year of playing online, I have already made TWO in just January of 2006, including a 6th place and now a 4th place, and for that I am absolutely thrilled.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Tiltanator

I came in 1st and 2nd in two 6x12s to start my evening off last night, which was some nice and much needed coin in my ever-dwindling pokerstars account, with my $345 win for my 6th place finish in the large $10 buyin tourney last week already feeling like just a distant memory (and most of the money I won there). Anyways that was it for the good part of my evening poker-wise. Unfortunately, I didn't know this, so after the two lucrative 6x12s, I also played the large $10 tourney which had 1050 entrants. I was felted in that tournament in like 243rd place when my 99 "ran into" 22 for all my chips against a guy I had "weakweakweak" read on, and a 2 came on the turn. Gotta love the 2-outers.

After that, I tilted.

Honestly, I am the WORST tilter I know. I dont run into worse tilters than me when I play online. EVER. Seriously. I am THE WORST tilter I have ever seen. I finally realize that I am not only WORSE than Hellmuth, Matusow, etc., but I am FAR worse than them. Those two guys get just as pizzy as me following a bad beat (or in Matusow's case, even one or a series of bad plays by him), but even though they may play a little off after the steam incident, neither of them plays anywhere NEAR as bad as I do when on tilt. And its ridick for me to keep playing under those circumstances. Tiltwise, I'm not nearly as bad (but still not great) on the other sites. It's just that, as my readers know, I just have SO little trust in pokerstars, I'm SO sure its rigged, that when it keeps happening to me and I keep losing money, I completely lose control and become consumed with hateful, satanic-style rage.

This is how bad my tilt is. I HONESTLY cannot tell you any specifics of what happened pokerwise after my tilt in the $10 tourney. I know I had intended to play and fail to cash in a 180 sng like every night, but I have no memory of actually doing that. I guess I never got around to that. My buddy V and I also played an 18 person sng, and I remember I got busted fairly early in like 12th place, though I cant remember the specifics of the situation, which is not uncommon for me when I'm really overcome with tilty hatred. I do remember that it involved the other guy really hitting a flop strong, and that also happening to be a flop that i elected to bluff strong into, which is NOT a good situation. I'm an aggressive player, and I've taken Doyle's advice to hear in that I'll go and TAKE a pot (several pots each tournament) where I have nothing but I know no one else has anything they're willing to sink a lot of money into defending. Anyways, the point is, I literally was SEETHING the entire way through that 18-person sng, so much that I cant recall ONE specific hand that happened in the entire thing.

Same story with the WWdN blogger tourney last night at 11:30pm ET. I actually made it through to 23rd out of 42 entrants before busting. But my lord I hardly remember anything specific that happened, I was just still so angry about the 4 to 1 beat I had taken when doing very well in the $10 tourney. I think the fact that I final-tabled that event last week has made me feel somehow a little more ENTITLED to respect in that tournament, like I'm the Michael Jordan of that event, and the cards ought to give me some breaks that they wouldn't otherwise give to other players. But that 2-outer beat fairly deep into in the earlier tourney just completely wiped me out mentally, and fully tilted me for the rest of the night.

So, what do I do to fix this little recurring problem? Automatically shut down for the night once I've been bad beat one time? That can't be the right answer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Good Horsey! and a Bad Beat in Holdem

I have been unable to stay awake lately, yet somehow keep playing late anyways. What is wrong with me (read: addiction)? On a good note, I did place second for a $6.50 profit in a $5 HORSE sng on ftp last night. My first cash ever in a horse event, so im happy about that. But to counterbalance that and then some, I got squashed in the $5 rebuy satellite to the 750k sunday tourney on pokerstars, buying back in FIVE times including a boost near the end of the rebuy period, plus the addon. I still went out within an hour or so of no-rebuy play. I just never got the cards in the right situations, couldn't put on any moves. It was one of those nights where you don't see much, but every time you look down and see AQ, the guy in first position raises 5x and the second guy calls. And as can happen with me from time to time, eventually the lack of playable hands ended up with me getting too aggresive. I moved in with AJ and was called by 99 and AQ. I honestly don't remember which guy won, but naturally I saw no help.

But the granddaddy beat of them all was the $10 buyin tournament on ps, a tournament that has proven to be both my greatest friend and my worst enemy online right now. When I was probably 200th out of 400 left with 1100 entrants, I hit a flop of QJ2 with a limped-in QQ in my hand. Slow played the flop, got THE big stack to move in on me with just KQ. I am thrilled. But the turn is an Ace. The river is a Ten. And just like that, I'm out. One of the worst beats ive ever personally experienced. As I seem to say every week or two (usually for three or four week stretches), pokerstars is Once Again angry with me.

I have to say one thing. In the Full Tilt HORSE tournaments, when I play razz, I tend to get a pair among my first three cards probably close to 60% of the time. Then the very next game is always stud high, and I get a pair dealt to me maybe every 5% of hands. This phenomenon has persisted through 3 or 4 different HORSE events for me now. Does that bother anyone? Am I really the only one who has experienced this?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Poker Weekend

I actually didn't play any poker on Saturday night this weekend. I drank a little and ended up falling asleep before the time I'm usually getting on, while waiting for Mrs. HP to the pc to do some on-line shopping for the family. However, in typical Sunday night fasion, I'm going to sleep pissed off over here thanks to pokerstars and the "random" badbeatage that occurs there. Tonight I played in a 180 sng, amazingly now my 13th such tournament without ANY cashes, as well as a 500 fpp satellite to the Sunday 750k guaranteed tournament. Both of them ended the identical way. First, after withstanding the first 200+ entrants into the satellite tourney, I slow played an A-10o in early position, got two limpers, and saw a flop of As10c5h. I checked my obvious leading hand, and a loose flop bettor moved allin on me. The other guy folded quick, and I had to call what I was SURE was just a reasonably big ace. We flip, and he has AJ of hearts. I'm going to win unless he spikes a jack on me. The turn comes the 6 of hearts. I'm so busy focusing on "no jack no jack no jack no jack" that I don't even notice the heart draw my too-loose opponent has picked up. When the river comes the 2 of hearts, I look down to watch my stack swell, and instead I am informed via popup window that I am out of the tourney. The dreaded runner runner flush.

As the perfect complement to THAT beat, in the 180 sng, I manage to double up on the second hand of the game when my inside straight hits on the turn, and I play weak and induce a movein on the river from some poor sap. So I was in good shape right from the get-go. However, 42 hands and 12% of flops later, I was down to around 2500 chips, good enough for around 43rd out of 88 remaining, when I was dealt QQ in last position. Got just one limper, in middle position, so I decided to move in and try to double up heading into the first break. The guy calls my QQ and shows me AcKh. Much like my beat in the satellite tournament, I am focusing on praying for no ace and no king (a virtual impossibility, I know), but miraculously I receive just that. UNfortunately, the 2nd and 3rd cards of the flop are both clubs, as is the turn, AND the river. And I lose with my overpair to not a runner flush, not a runner-runner flush, not even a runner-runner-runner flush, but a Fucking RUNNERRUNNERRUNNERRUNNER flush. How the fug am I supposed to compete with that?!

So that will be it for me with the big tourneys tonight, I'm not playing again and again when ps is obviously feeling raggy towards me. I am really focusing on trying to get better about not playing on ps when everything seems against me. I played AWESOMELY in both of these tournaments tonight, once AGAIN in both cases getting in with the best hand, and still taking it in the chin. Eff that.

On a somewhat bright note, I played my first 6x12 sng on ps today in ages, where I placed second after ALSO getting beat on a runnerrunnerrunnerrunner flush over my favored hand. So another horrific beat, but at least I cashed in my first tourney back at that structure.

I also headed over the party late tonight for a quick 1-tabler sng for $20. Doubled up early when Fishy McGee called my allin with JKo on a board of J93o. Nemo had 55. What D. Fug possesses these people to actually put up actual money to actually play actual poker, with skillz this terrible? On the strength of that early stake, I managed to win the tournament outright, pocketing a cool $100 cash money while knocking out 7 of the other 9 players along the way. I was basically even with the 2nd place guy heads-up at the end, I called the preflop bet, he raised to 3x, and I reraised allin with AQo. He called me and flipped...are you ready? Q7o. That hand absolutely crippled him, and I had the game in the bag. It's fun to get back to the 1 table sng's. It's like getting back to my roots. These 1 table sng are actually what got me to start playing on party in the first place, they were so easy to beat.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Just Horsin' Around

Well, I embarrassed myself in the WPBT HORSE tourney. I went out 5th out of 61 people, in 57th place, and I didn't even deserve that good of a showing. I played holdem horribly. I played Omaha horribly, getting scooped by our host April on a pot where I was clearly second-best on both sides. I played Razz laughably, playing only one pot after, typically, receiving seven sets of pairs among my first 3 cards out of 13 razz hands. SEVEN pairs! Can you believe that? Then of course when stud started, I received exactly ZERO pairs out of 12 hands. SUCH a typical Razz/Stud experience is it not? I almost made it through the entire "E" round of stud high/low, but by that point I was forced to move in with a draw of 2-4-5-6 on 4th street, and of COURSE I got no help, lost both sides and was mercifully out. I said my goodbyes and moved on to pokerstars, while keeping the HORSE tourney open to watch the festivities.

Pokerstars was very frustrating as well. I was already in a bad mood from my showing in HORSE, and then on ps I did the $10 tournament that I final tabled early in the week. I made it from the original 814 entrants down to less than 200, but this was the 10% payout schedule instead of pokerstars' usual 20% schedule, something which i actually prefer since I don't care much for making $1.13 that they pay you for coming in between around 12-20th percentile in their 20% tourneys. Thus, when I moved in after a check from my one opponent with my A7 on a board of 567, and my fish extraordinaire opponent called me with 34o, I was bounced out in around 150th place but did not get the cash. It was not technically a bad beat, but at the same time it is difficult to be comfortable with losing to a guy who flops a straight, and does so with 3-4 offsuit, against your A7 which ALSO turns out to be top pair top kicker. That's what I call the "setup" beat, instead of the "bad beat". It was set up for me to lose a lot of chips given the way it played out. Not the most frustrating beat I've ever taken, but it didn't feel good following up on a truly donkifying performance in the HORSE tournament. I'm looking forward to staying up late tonight and playing some good tournament poker, including my first ever cash in a 180-person sng on pokerstars.

Friday, January 20, 2006

My Big Night

I am thrilled to report that last night was a banner night for me in the realm of online poker. I entered the $10 buyin large tournament on pokerstars, the third or fourth time I have done this tournament, to limited success thus far. Although my recent history in the ps big tourneys has been pretty solid -- 3 cashes in my last 5 tournaments, against an average of probably around 1700 players apiece, two of which I managed to finish in the top 100. I knew it was going to be a good night right from the get-go, when, while surviving my way through the first round, I actually averaged 23% of flops seen during that time, a solid 7-10% higher than my flop percentage at ANY point during the previous 5 weeks or so on ps. During the first break, which took us down to around 330 of the 873 entrants in the tournament, I got a beer (Sierra Nevada, my new lucky poker drink!), and came back ready to open up a bit more in the second session, and I did just that. I executed a few big bluffs, including one play where I raised 5x preflop with the hammer, got one caller and then moved in on him following a fairly suggestive KQ8 flop with two clubs. He folded, and then I waited until the last possible second before showing my hammer for all to see (obviously this inflicts maximum psychological hammer damage, needless to say).

Anyways, I survived to the second break, which was right around the money cutoff of 162 people, with me in around 50th place. After officially reaching the Money early in Round 3, the play in the tourney opened up quite a bit, allowing me some chances to make some moves. Unfortunately, my dearth of good cards continued. Fortunately, I was able to use a number of well-timed bluffs, many preflop, to steal some good blinds and bets and stay in the game, even gaining steadily in chips throughout the third period. I recall commenting to my friend V shortly after making the money that, interestingly, I had won 22 hands thus far in the tournament, but was 0 for 0 in showdowns, having won Every Single Hand on a fold by all my opponents. You know the others who had been at my table for some time were thinking I was utterly full of cripe, a fact which I was determined to use to my advantage as the third session came to a close, with me in 34th place out of 50 remaining players, each of us well into the money payouts at this point and all just jockeying for position and hoping for some big cards.

I don't have much to report about my fourth session in the tournament, other than that my card deadness continued, with my tournament flop percentage steadily dropping from the 23% in round 1 down at this point to 17%. I did record my biggest hand of the tournament near the end of round 4, where I held pocket 2s and got in with one caller for a 3x raise. When the flop came an AJ2 with two diamonds, I knew it was on. I checked, drawing out a bet from my opponent, which I just smooth called after "thinking" for agonizingly long. When the third diamond came on the turn, I crying called a smallish bet from my opponent, who was definitely giving off vibes of the flush, but who basically bet 3x the BB into a pot that already contained about 10x the BB by that point. When a second Ace came on the river, I felt very comfortable from the betting that my full house was now good, and that my opponent was probably sitting on a made flush. I led out for the first time in the hand, moving in my last 10,000 chips in an attempt to look desperate and beaten. The guy thought and thought, waiting until his timer was down to 0:01 before deciding to call me. He showed me the nut flush with K9 of diamonds, and I flipped my well-disguised boat for a huge pot, one which vaulted me into First Place among the 18 players remaining at that time. This was already the furthest I had ever gotten in a large tourney on ps or otherwise online, and I was thrilled to be doing as well as I was by this point.

After break #4 (my first time ever seeing this break in any online tournament btw -- and I can verify that break #4 is not a myth but, in fact, really occurs in reality late in these large tournaments), the rest of the time is basically a blur. I know I still didn't see much in the way of playable starting hands or good hits on the flop, but I managed to bluff a few guys off of big bets preflop by representing big pairs in smart situations. I was in first place from 18 players left until 12 players left, after which point two people on the other remaining table in the tournament both hit massive pots against others over there, knocking them out and surpassing my chip lead. Before I knew it, I was at my First Final Table ever in an online event of more than 60 or so entrants. Here is a picture of what things looked like when the final table began (I am Hoyazo, and you can click on these pictures to enlarge them to actually be able to read them):

Early on at the final table I continued my great luck of picking off weak players with well-timed bluffs and excellent reads of my opponents, but also unfortunately coninued not getting good starting hands. I finally went out in 6th place when my 77, the first playable had I had gotten in the last 43 hands dealt to me, ran into the chip leader's 99, and before I knew it, I was done:

Nonetheless, I am absolutely THRILLED about this outcome and to be able to share these pictures with you. Sure, the $344 payout on my $10 buyin is huge, but much more than that is the confirmation that all my hard work and practice is beginning to pay off in a very real way. This is all the more meaningful to me because I really did not get the quality of starting hands that one would want in order to make it far in a large tournament -- by the time I was knocked out in 6th place, my flop percentage had dwindled from 23% in round 1 to a paltry 11% of flops seen overall in the tournament, out of a little over 500 hands. Not to mention, it is barely the middle of January, and I am already very close to completing my primary poker goal of 2006, to win a MTT for the first time. It was a total thrill for me all the way through, and I am psyched to be able to share it with you all, my fake internet friends. Look for more of the same in the future as I expect to springboard from this psychological boost and get my first official MTT win sometime in the near future. You'll definitely be the first to learn about it right here!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


What an ANNOYING night of poker!! Where to begin...

First, I played my ministep 3 sng tournament at party, this after getting absurdly bad beat last night to go out in 3rd place, one spot away from advancing to ministep 4. So, back to ministep 3 again tonight, and this time I finally got some hands late in the game, and with 3 players left I had a significant chip lead. Then things went TERRIBLY wrong. Without going into all the details, I will share two of the best tidbits. First, I got into a hand with both of my opponents all in, where I held KK, the guy in second (fairly close to me in chips) held A9, and the short stack held 77. I'm thinking this is it, I am at LEAST in second place after this hand, with 2nd being all that matters in order to advance to the next rung of the ladder. Well, although the flop was raggy, the FUCKING 7 on the river did that plan in, and play had to continue. Still, I persisted and managed to regain my chip lead briefly, before making some ill-timed raises and dropping down into second place. With the chips at about 5000, 2500 (me) and 375 (donkey), and blinds of 200/400, the short stack was literally blinded allin, and i called him with A9o. He flips over 67o. I mean, this one isn't even close, and now I know that FINALLY I can advance to ministep 4. Only, the poker gods it turns out didn't know thats how it works. Flop has a 6, no help to me in the rest of the board, and at that point I was furious. I was so mad with those two idiotic beats that I honestly don't remember any of the details of what happened next. I know I got beat one more time with AJ against KQ, and then I got beat again with a favored hand to knock me out of the tourney in 3rd place, netting me just another step 3 entry fee. I ranted like a madman on the IM to my buddy R for about 15 minutes, and then when I was sufficiently calm, I went ahead and fired up another ministep 3, more determined than ever to put the fucking silliness of that last tournament behind me. Things started off bright, when I picked up 10-10 on the very first hand, put in a nice raise and got 2 callers, and then the flop came 10-Q-A with two diamonds. Well, I moved in right there on the spot, figuring that there was at least one straight draw out there and hoping maybe to catch someone with 2 pairs as well. Amazingly, not one but BOTH players called my allin, and I was sitting pretty. I mean, I could not have been happier with my position, KNOWING I had to be the favorite among the three, at least at that time after the flop. Well, imagine my dismay when my opponents flipped QQ and KJ. So my hidden set of 10s on the flop ended up being the LAST PLACE hand of the three players. This is the kind of night I had online today.

To follow things up, I entered the $20, 180 person sng on party after all this, knowing full well I should have just cut my losses right there. I played awesomely, and got some cards with which to play awesomely, and with 57 people remaining, I was in 1st place. Unfortunately, I ran into three god dam idiotic, stoopid, impossible bad beats out of 4 hands, and just like that, I was eliminated in 45th place. I am still STINGING from that tournament, and this night overall just has me feeling utterly deflated in every way about continuing to play online. I mean, in the span of 10 minutes, I held AA and got it cracked on the river by a fish who kept calling me with just top pair and jack kicker and an inside straight draw, who hit his straight draw on the end. Then my 10s lost to someone's 7s, not even when their 7 hit, but when they flushed on the river due to holding the 7 of clubs. Then if that wasn't enough, I limped in with KQ, flopped two pairs on a flop of KQ9 rainbow, and managed to lose to a guy holding pocket jacks who hit a jack on the turn after he moved in on me and I correctly called him down. That last beat put me out of the tournament, and I am still in utter and complete disbelief about the whole thing. This was definitely my tournament to win tonight, and now I have nothing to show for it, but another $22 loss in my bankroll, and a LOT of pent up anger at online poker in general, and at pokerstars in particular. When oh when will the bad beats stop attacking me like flies on shit?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Poker Weekend

Yo. This was a positive and negative weekend as far as my poker playing goes. On the bright side, I finished in the top 100 players in three consecutive large tournaments on pokerstars. Which believe me, given the cards I tend to get on ps, is *quite* a feat. I got as high as 76th place out of 2274 entrants in the Saturday night tournament at around 7pm ET. One thing I have noticed is that the large tournaments that occur earlier in the evening than I usually play (I'm usually on around 10pm ET) are not only larger, but full of much more fish than the later ones. Maybe that's because only the more serious players such as myself stay up until midnight or later every night playing even when they know they have to be up in a few hours to leave for their day jobs. All I know is that when I played the 2200-person event on Saturday night, it was unreal all the stoopid fishing going on. I can't count how many times someone called all in, or even MOVED all in, with just a flush draw, in several cases not even on the flop but on the turn! So anyways, I did place in the top 100 in three consecutive large tourneys on ps from Thursday to Saturday night, so that is certainly a good sign for my game.

Let me digress for a minute. Am I the only guy out there who can't STAND ps's redickulous 20% payment award schedule? I mean, I'm all for the top 20% getting paid out all things being equal. But when is ps going to realize that all things are NOT equal? When you make the top 20% in a large stars tournament, your payout is less than 2 or 3 times your buyin or everyone between top 20% and about top 3%. Think about that. You pay $3 to play against 2000 other people in a nlh event. You do well and manage to make it well into the money before being busted out on a suckout in 168th place. It takes you 3 hours and 42 minutes to get from 2000 down to 168th, and all you have to show for it after almost 4 hours and a top 8% finish among 2000 entrants is a payback of $5.88. What's up with that? Can I really be the only one who can't stand this? As with most of my complaints about ps, this is just another sign of them being designed for, and run for, the fish. I'm sure the fish love the 20% payout schedule. Why? Because for them, it is dumb luck if they EVER manage to sneak into the top 400, and they desperately want to be able to tell their friends and their mommies "I actually CASHED in a 2000 person tournament last night! Praise me!" And ps wants them to be doing that too, just like ps wants the fish sucking out more often than usual, so that they can recruit more fish to come play at their site.

Which leads me to the bad part of the weekend poker festivities. In each of my three large tournament successes, as well as in 5 other tournaments I played on Sunday and Monday, I got busted where I had the lead when all the chips went to the middle. Not every one was a bad beat per se, because there were a few where I had only the upper hand in a race situation, but I have to tell you, losing 38,000 chips in 78th place after 4 hours of hard-fought poker action because my 99 loses to the other guy's AJ is not much more comforting than losing my 99 to his 77 or something else with better odds. And the other thing, I have started a *very* annoying habit of running into other people's Aces when I am deep into a tournament. I have yet in my life to ever see AA myself once I'm in the money in a nlh tournament, but I have run into someone else playing AA against me probably 5 or 6 times. That is also a source of tremendous frustration.

One other thing for today: I played in the ps $20 buyin 180-person sng on Sunday night, and sitting two seats to my left at my first table is none other than Drizz himself. I gave him the shout out, but in an anonymous way so that no one else at the table knew I was talking to him specifically, which I imagine he enjoyed though he clearly wanted to remain anonymous. Anyways, as a note to Drizz, I just want to say I have NEVER in my ENTIRE life seen people donk off chips to someone as badly as they did to Drizz in the maybe one hour I remained in that tournament before being bad beat out on the river to a guy with nothing but on OESD against my 2 pairs. I mean he had 3000 chips before we blinked an eye, and this included people calling repeated bets against him with nothing more than Q9 suited on a board of AK9, and multiple people playing for inside straight draws against him through the flop and turn. It was incredible. I think I checked in later and saw that Drizz did not money, but still, I would KILL for people to play like that against me, even for just a few minutes on pokerstars. Sure I get fish playing against me all day long on ps, but for whatever reason they always seem to hit what they're fishing for and knock me out of these things, rather than staking me to a huge early stack. Just once and I'll be happy for at least a few weeks, I promise.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Who's Your DADI

Played in the DADI Omalympics last night with the bloggers. It was great fun as usual for these events, and now that pokerstars is my friend again, I'm able to have much more fun at these things instead of embarrassing myself by going out first when my KK gets cracked by someone else's 99 or JQs. Anyways, the theme of the DADI event last night was definitely busted low draws in my view. I must have personally seen at least 15 of the 47 players go out when they had a strong low draw that just never got that 3rd low card on the board. In fact, I was a victim of this as my event almost ended very early, when on hand #3 I held A38J, and the flop came 247. Obviously I had the nuts, so I stuck around for a decent sized bet. When he turn came a Q, I bet out, got raised, and put in a max reraise since I knew I was the nuts for half the pot and there were only 2 of us left. Well, the river brought an Ace, counterfeiting my most valuable low card, and before I knew it I had lost 3/4 of the pot to a higher high AND a tied low with Jordan from HighonPoker. I was down from 1500 to around 650 chips, and in last place right from the get go, and feeling pretty pissed to be embarrassing myself once again in front of the other bloggers (despite my being the best dam poker player I know).

Despite my early bad luck, I managed to hold my own, winning several small pots and fighting my way back up from a low of 550 chips to around 1000. Then I had my biggest hand of the night. I limp-checked out of the big blind with 34QQ. The flop came 2-5-7. I held a strong low , plus the OESD and a hidden pair of queens for high. I put in a reasonably sized bet, which was called by one player across the table with a large stack, who gave out the distinct impression of holding the A-3 for the nut low. Then the river brought a great card for me, an Ace, counterfeiting what I thought was the Ace in my opponent's hand, and making me the new nut low with my 3-4. I checked, and my opponent ate the bait, betting large on his still solid low. I raised allin, and he thought and called my nut low. We flipped, and when the dream card, a third queen, came on the river, my nut low won the low half over his counterfeited Ace, and my trip queens took down the high half of the monster pot over his aces and 7s, the biggest pot to that point on our table.

I managed to get as high as 5th place briefly after this point with around 3600 chips, but eventually, shortly after the first break and with around 25 players remaining out of the starting group of 47, I dropped from 8th to 14th on a busted nut low draw that never filled, which as I mentioned was really the killer of almost everyone that I saw go out or get busted big during the tournament. Then, to add insult to injury, two hands later, I held A299, and the board came 34J, tempting me to call a bet I probably should not have (in retrospect anyways!) with the nut low draw. When the low card did not come on the turn, I knew my odds were poor, but given the blinds structure at that point in the tournament, most of my chips were already in the pot at that point, and I was too pot committed to fold it out. Needless to say, I lost the rest of my chips when the low also failed to complete on the river, and was out of the tournament in 23rd place. While I certainly had expected to do better, in all I was very pleased with my performance, in papticular with me keeping my composure and coming back from last place early to as high as 5th place shortly before the first break. Especially since Omaha is not really my #1 game.

While I left the DADI open to watch the continuing festivities, I decided to enter the $1 large tourney on ps, as I had finished in the top 85 or so in each of the last two nights in similar large tourneys on ps, each with more than 1200 entrants. The total number of players was I think 1161, and things got started off good early when I played AK for a small raise with 4 other players, and a flop of AK4 not only got me top two pairs but also got me two callers and raisers, one with AQ and one with a flush draw. Two more rags and some sneaky passive play from me got one opponent to move in on me, and while the other folded, I was able to pick up most of both of their chips with my hand. From there I was up from 1000 to around 2300 chips, which I rode for a good long while. Around 15 minutes before the first break, I managed to get over 3200 when I flopped trips on a flop of 10-10-4 rainbow (I held 10-K in my hand), and I checked around on the flop. The turn was a 2, and I checked it around again, hoping to induce a bet but getting none. Then when a King came on the river, completing my boat, I careflly paused, and then led out with a fairly low bet of 200. My ploy worked perfectly, as one opponent folded but then other pushed without hesitation, with what turned out to be AK for top two pairs and top kicker. I coasted through the second session, gradually increasing my chip stack until I crossed the 10,000 mark just before the second break when a fish called my bet that put him all in with my tptk, as compared to his top pair, jack kicker. Who DOES that for a big bet fiarly late in a tournament? Anyways, my tournament ended after 2 1/2 hours in 88th place when I moved in a stack of 12000 chips (38th place at the time) with 10-10 in late position, and just one limper to that point. The blinds folded, and the limper calls, flipping...you guessed it! A-A. Needless to say, I almost never suck out on people, especially on pokerstars, and not only did I not get the 10 I needed, but my opponent flopped another Ace to put me out of my misery early. Nonetheless, it was another positive night overall, as I made 88th out of 1160 players, my third top-100 finish in the last three days on pokerstars. And I still can't help but comment on how interesting it is that for two weeks, starting the very day after I went OFF on pokerstars in the chat about how obviously fixed their software is, I could not hit a THING. I got bad beat out of 15 consecutive tournaments on ps over an 11-day period, not advancing past the bottom 20th percentile of players in any case. And now, just a week later, I am making the money and the top 100 players in 3 straight large tournaments, outlasting 1000 or more players in each case. Something is up with ps, no?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

So Far So Bad

Well it's barely 9pm ET tonight, and I've already taken not one not two but THREE super annoying beats in online tournaments. First, the 2200-entrant $10 buyin event on party. I won the first hand preflop with a 3x raise with QQ, folded the second, and then in the third hand was dealt AKo. It was folded to me, I raised 4x, got 2 callers. Flop comes A-10-9 with two diamonds. I like the flop for a couple of reasons -- obviously I have tptk, and no possible overpairs, but there are also many possible draws out there. Now, with 8 players, that many draws would become unattractive as my likelihood of losing to one of them grows. But with only two players in the pot, I like that there is a good shot I can get some action on a flop where I most likely have the best hand (barring the fish playing A10 or A9 that is). To be sure not to give any free cards to the drawers, and to make sure no one has flopped two pairs (or find out if they have), I lead out with a bet of 200. First guy calls, and second guy moves in. I think for a while, and I just don't put him on A9 or A10, so I have to call. The other guy folds, and we flip -- my tptk against his 78o for just an OESD. Well, needless to say I am thrilled, the turn is a rag, and then the river comes...Jack of clubs. Just like that, on hand #3, I am out at the hands of a fish.

Then, while waiting for the 9pm $10 buyin event on FullTilt, I enter a $10 sng to pass the time. On the 8th hand in that tournament (I won 2 of the first 8 hands for small pots), I am dealt 9-10o, and after 4 limpers to me, I decide to limp along as well in last position. With 5 players total, the flop comes 8-9-10 rainbow. 3 checks, and the guy before me bets 200. I think and raise him to 400 with my top 2 pair. Everyone else folds. This guy raises me to 600. I move in, thinking "What are the odds that he flopped a straight with a cripey hand like QJ or 76, just like that"? Well, he raises me allin, and at this point I am clearly committed and have to call. I confidently flip my 2 pairs, expecting to see the OESD along with a pair. Bam! JQ it is. Of course no boat fillage comes for me on the turn or river, and I am out of that tournament as well.

To top things off, I then entered the $10 buyin tourney on ftp, which ended up with close to 400 entrants. Cutting to the chase, in hand #10, I'm in last position, holding 10-10, everyone folds to me, so I raise it up 5x, trying to look like a too-big bet for a steal. The BB doubles my raise, which I didn't believe for a second represented a hand bigger than my 10s. But I know I don't want to take 10-10 to the flop, so I move him in. He thinks for about 3 seconds and calls, flipping QQ. Great! Of course no help on the board, and I am down from 81st place out of 370-some to about 360th place with only 600 chips left. 5 hands later with my stack dwindling, I am dealt 88 in first position. I debated just pushing right then, but figured instead I would just limp, draw in some other callers, hopefully then a raiser so I could push and get the max bang for my buck with what should be the best hand out there. Well, not exactly. My plan works to absolute perfection, and when the same guy raises from the previous luckbeat, everyone folds to me, I push. He once again calls. I flip my 88, expecting to see A-10, KQ, etc. But no, this time it's JJ. Of course no help on the board, and just like that I'm out. In the first 16 fucking hands, I get 10-10 with all folds to me, and 8-8 in a great situation short stacked, and in both cases the same ahole is dealt QQ and JJ and knocks me out. Goddammit why does this seem to happen so much to me.

Three horrendous luckbeats in the span of about an hour. And to think I was all psyched up to win something big tonight!

As a post-script, I did end up also entering the stars $5 turbo nl tourney tonight, and doing pretty well in it, so I'm feeling a bit better than I had been previously. Generally I try to avoid turbo tournaments, because that fast structure just plays into the hands of the fish, the pushmasters and the suckerouters, and detracts from the chances of the solid, smart players. Generally I'm a guy who believes that given enough time for me to get my share of good cards, I will grow my stack and find my way into the cash, or get bad beat out trying. But I guess because my standard tourneys weren't doing so well, I found my way into the large turbo tourney on ps, and I managed to triple up on the third hand of the tournament with AKo and a board of AQJ rainbow. One guy moved in with what turned out to be KJ, and another pushed all of her chips in with A-10. I thought it over and had to call, despite my sick beats from earlier in the evening, and once again I had the best hand going in, but for once this time that best hand held up as no straights and no trips came on the board. I managed to ride that huge opening (which vaulted me to 3rd place out of 1600-some active players) all the way past the first break and up to the $1000-2000 blind level. After getting the benefit of a great suggout when the Ace I needed for an improbable straight hit the river, I won a few, lost a few as the tournament entered pushfest time. With about 35% of the average stack, and an M of just under 4, I decided I had to push regardless of my cards when the 2000-chip big blind came to me, taking another 30% of my stack right there. So, even when an MP player pushed allin, and an LP player called the allin move, I still stuck to my guns, being thankful for the equity of the two callers to my allin move, despite the fact that I had 97o as my hole cards. Well, the poker gods smiled on my briefly then, as the flop of 8-10-Q rainbow gave me the flopped straight, and tripled me back up to over 20,000 in chips. Then, 8 hands later I ended up in another 3-way pushfest, with my pair of 3s up against a K2 and a KJ, and I was sitting pretty once again, and primed to be among the top 10 on the leaderboard if those 3s could hold, which I felt better than usual about since the two Kings counterfeited both of my opponents' hands somewhat. The board was 962 rainbow. Turn was an Ace, leaving me a big favorite with one card to come. And, the river, well let's just say it wasn't the counterfeited King. It was a jack, and I had been sugged on once again to get me out in 84th place out of 1777 entrants. In all a positive end to a very negatory evening on online poker.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


So my buddy R turned me on to the PartyPoker steps tournaments last night. I had heard them talked about but certainly didn't know what they were, until my buddy told me about them excitedly yesterday after he had won the Step 5 ministep tournament for a $2000 prize, which he bought in to for only $20. It's actually a really smart way for party to get people to play without having to pay out too much in winnings, and it's also a great way for the players to have a shot at a nice sized prize for a potentially very small initial buyin. For the ministeps, Step 1 is a $6 buyin, with the winner getting a buyin into a Step 2 ministep tourney, which is itself a $20 buyin. Since all of these step tournaments are just one table, this is a structure that I have been playing online for some time, so I figured I liked my odds. In fact, since you have to win the ministep 1 to get a seat at the $20 step 2 tournament, and since I have played plenty of $20 buyin tourneys anyways, R convinced me to just start with the ministep 2, in which you only need to finish in the top 2 to win a set to the ministep 3 tourney. Well, long story short, despite literally seeing 11% of flops -- for me basically around half (or even less) of my usual percentage -- because my cards were SO ungodly horrible, I *still* somehow managed to end in 2nd place. It's weird because party makes absolutely no distinction between the prize for 1st and 2nd place in the ministep 2 tournament -- both just get a free seat to a ministep 3 tournament, and that's all. So once we got heads up, you're just Playing for Pride. And my pride got wounded when I called allin with 10-J suited, only to see him flip QJ suited, and (of course) my dominated hand failed to catch anything to pick me up. But it looks like I'll be in a ministep 3 tournament now sometime later this week, so look for me.

Btw, I also entered a $20 buyin, 174 entrant tournament on full tilt, and made it down to 54 players left before moving in with QQ on a short stack. Almost always a bad idea.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Poker Weekend

Overall, definitely a good weekend playing poker. I barely got to play on Friday night as I was doing other things and then fell asleep early. But Saturday was a somewhat historic day for me, in two key ways. First, I won my first ever tournament at Full Tilt poker. As I wrote earlier, I've been using ftp less than a week, and I have to say I continue to be impressed with the interface, the game play and just the overall experience. Anyways, I had lost my first few sng's on FTP, most of which were one-table jobs where the top 3 finishers get paid where I ended up bubbling. One thing I have definitely noticed about ftp is that, once these sng get one spot out of the money, the game tends to tighten up like my belt on Thanksgiving. Now, some degree of this is fine, normal and expected, but for whatever reason I find the ftp sng's to really push it, and in fact they almost become annoying at how tight/slow the games seem to get when four-handed near the money. Anyways, after probably taking 25 minutes to bust the first 5 players and get down to 4-handed, we must have played another 30 minutes just trading chips around among the final 4 players. Finally after a good half hour and not seeming any closer to making the money because the game had deteriorated into fold-fold-raise-fold, fold-fold-raise-fold, fold-fold-raise-fold every single hand, I decided I had to do something to generate some action. So, starting about 30 minutes into 4-handed, with no majorly short stack, I began showing my cards Every Single Time I won a hand. At first it didn't seem to do much, but maybe 10 or 15 minutes later, people started calling not only me but each other noticeably more frequently, and I know this was directly related to me getting a call from the then short stack when I picked up 6s a few minutes later. Moreover, it must have contributed to his willingness to make a small initial raise with his crappy J-10 offsuit, which I raised with my 6s and then he called. Needless to say, since this wasn't on pokerstars, my pocket pair held up and we were in the money. At that point the next guy went out fast, also to me when my 99 held up against KQs, and I was in the final two with a solid chip lead. After continuing to show all of my hands that won, it took maybe only 5 more minutes for him to push on me when I was holding A9o, at a time when I had probably a nearly 3 to 1 chip lead. I considered briefly and then figured What the hell and called. He flipped A6, and the rest is history. Not a huge amount of money for me, but again my first ever ftp win, the first of a great many hopefully! ;)

Also on Saturday night, my horrendous streak of bad losses on pokerstars came to a crashing end when, motivated by my full-table sng success on ftp, my buddy V managed to convince me to play a $10 buyin, 9-player sng on ps. Long story short, not only did I not get bad beat out of the thing, but I won it. This tournament also got tighter than it needed to get when down to 4-handed, but ultimately the hand-showing thing was necessary as a consistent strategy because the gameplay on ps just seems generally faster to me, and wasn't quite as annoying. Plus, the fishness of ps eventually came through, and we were down to the money without too too long with 4 players. I forget the key hands that brought me the win, but suffice it to say that me winning ANYTHING on ps at this point was a Huge statement for me, and again reconfirms that my horrific streak of beats is finally at an end. Mercifully.

To further confirm this, on Sunday night I entered the $2 buyin large tourney on ps, after i let V talk me into first entering an $11 buyin, 45 person turbo sng. I almost Never play the turbo tourneys on ps or any other site, because the whole idea of a turbo tournament goes against the skill players, those who make good reads and smart bets, and those tight-aggressive types who are willing to wait for the good hands and then move with them. But V prevailed and I entered. After making it down to 24 people remaining, I was dealt A-10 of clubs in late position, and when it was my turn there was only one limper in the pot, so I moved in with what was then a short stack on my part (M of about 7). I read the limper for weakness and figured I could really use the blinds and his stack. Well, the BB ends up calling my allin, and then so did the limper. Not good news for my A10, not anyways until they flipped KJ suited from the BB, and KQ offsuit from the early limper. How these zobos could call my allin with these cards is beyond me, but I guess that's what ps is all about. There are just more nemo's there than anywhere else I've ever seen, and they seem to perform better on ps than anywhere as well. Anyways, true to form, my solid favorite hand ended this showdown in a distant third after a K and a J both flopped. Yes, even though I had the best cards going in, AND each of my opponents already had one of their Kings counterfeited in the other's hand, one still flopped with no ace, and I was out, wondering if ps was ready to start another stoopid streak of killings.

Anyways despite all this, I entered the $2 buyin tourney on ps afterwards because I love the big tourneys and don't always want to risk $10 or $20 or more with the odds of fish sugging out on me there. Long story short, I easily made the cash out of 1201 entrants, and was as high as 3rd place with about 120 players remaining. With a couple of friends looking on, I made the third break, grabbed one more beer, and as we crossed the 50 players remaining threshhold, I had the "good fortune" to be dealt pocket Kings. Now, despite me always losing to aces with this hand, I had to play aggressively at this point in the tournament, so in late position with all folds around to me, I raised 4x the big blind, hoping for a call or especially a reraise to I could push. Well, the SB thought and thought, and then moved me in for all my chips. Though of course I suspected aces, no WAY I was throwing that hand away, so I called, and imagine my surprise when this ass flips over 2-4 offsuit!! I was thrilled and counted my chips, seeing that I was about to be vaulted back into 3rd place with under 50 players remaining. That is, until the flop comes 2-6-2. How convenient. Then to add insult to injury, the turn is a 4, ending my tournament in 49th place, and of course leaving that (all too) familiar bad taste in my mouth. I mean, this guy is beyond donkey to push with that kind of a hand. If he wanted to make a play, fine, wait until you have K8 or Q-10 at least, so you have SOME kind of a hand if you get played with. But then I guess, why bother when you have ps on your side, software that is designed to help the fish and the suckerouters do their thing. I hope ps knows what theyre doing, because as soon as the blogging community gets their act together and gets the periodic blogger tourneys off of ps and onto a legitimate poker site, I am cashed out for good from that evil, funking bitch.

Anybody else lose in a key position late in a big tournament with a hand like KK to a hand like 24o? What the fucking fuck.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Streak is Over

Well guys, I didn't do great last night on pokerstars, but I do believe the deliberate fucking lesson might, and I emphasize the MIGHT, be finally, mercifully over. I lost my first two tournaments last night, a 6x12 sng and the large $2 buyin tourney, fairly early in each case, but I can't blame pokerstars or a bad beat for knocking me out in the latter. See, this is what I'm reduced to after what ps has put me through over this past week -- actually being PLEASED that I knocked myself out early in a tournament with a not smart play. In the first tournament, the sng, I got typically ps fucked -- I raised preflop in middle position with AJs, got one caller. Flop came A82 with 2 clubs. He led at the pot with a minbet, which I raised to 5x the BB. He thought and called. Turn was another rag, no club. He minbet again, I raised to 10x the BB, he thought and called. Then the river comes the 4 of clubs. I moved in, because I already had about 2/3 of my chips in the pot at that point, and he calls, of course showing me the club flush. Yes I noted him as one of the biggest fish I'd ever run into on ps, but what does that really matter right now when he was still in the tourney, munching on MY chips, while I was out once again. So the streak rose to 16 straight tournaments bad beat out by ps, and my confidence was at an all time low.

Then in the $2 tourney though, I actually got 3 or 4 very good hands before the first break (first time in over a week I have been able to play more than 13 or 14% of flops due to deliberately crappy cards). Although I went out just before the first break, I actually managed to survive a couple of all-in dogs against my favorites, which also had definitely not happened to me ONE RED TIME for seven full days, and the hand that put me out was just a poor read by me with my top and bottom pair, against a guy who was slow playing bottom set with a pair of 5s that also hit the flop. Oh well, I lost the $2, but the game play in that hand meant so much more than that to me. I finally felt like the curse had been broken. As I've mentioned previously, ps's previous delibafuckings of me have all lasted 5-7 days, and this one I believe was yesterday at 7 days, so hopefully they are finally off their high horse and will permit me to at least have a chance against their recockulously "random" cards from now on.

Which then gave me the confidence to move up to the $35x6 sng. Long story short, I finished in second, in the money and paying back $73.50. So that was a nice confirmation that hopefully things are turning around for me on ps.

One other quick note -- after reading about Full Tilt Poker from countless bloggers, I took the plunge and downloaded it last night. I have to say -- I LOVE it! It's the only poker site I've played that I would say has an interface approaching pokerstars -- both the ease of play, the graphics, the buttons, the statistics are great, the waiting lists for tournaments is great. Like I said, so far (after one day) it seems like pokerstars, but without the nonrandom setups and bad beats and the like. Again, not that those things aren't going to happen on ftp, but I'm quite sure they won't happen with the regularity that these things "randomly" occur on ps.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bad beat update

Well, make it FOURTEEN straight bad beats on pokerstars. I don't know what to say about it. I've taken to only playing the small buyin tournaments ($1-$3) since I know how every single one of them will end, but another thing I'm very happy to have done is I have started inviting friends to watch my tables or even to play in these tournaments with me at my table, so that I have witnesses to exactly what's been happening. Of the 14 straight bad beats (13 on the river, including last night's club flush draw hitting against my top pair), I have now had at least one witness there for probably the last 8 or 9. I don't know why that makes me feel better, but it does. I guess I hear a lot of people say a lot of things that have happened to them in online poker, but I don't always necessarily believe them 100%. This is 100% true and can be verified.

So anyways, my plan for some reason is to keep playing on ps and get through this career-worst streak. As I've said earlier, I've been playing poker in casinos and home games for the better part of 20 years now, and without a doubt have NEVER, ever suffered through a streak like this. I may not have won for a while in a row, but the 14 straight bad beats is something which I think you would only find online, and probably only on ps. As I've mentioned earlier, ps is clearly mad at me for saying they are fixed in the chat, they've warned me and warned me and punished me by removing my chat and note abilities, and it appears like they've finally decided to get me off their system once and for all. It's funny, if they would just admit to me what they're doing and tell me not to come back, I guess I would have no choice but to comply. Instead, they are taking the pussiest action imaginable -- completely compromising recockulously the integrity of their software and their system by fixing every game I'm in to bad beat me out.

The scary thing is, if they have the ability to do this to just me, anyone who Ever says they aren't fixed, or aren't set up to help the donkeys, they wouldn't do that, etc. is blatantly wrong, once and for all. It's a scary thought about online poker everywhere isn't it?

Here's to my streak ending tonight (hopefully). Last night I could only play in the one tournament because of other commitments, but tonight I expect at least three more bad beats. I guess getting the streak to 20 straight tournaments would be something to talk about.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

I never do resolutions. Ever. I think it's a silly, stupid concept, and in my experience less than 1% of people ever follow through with their resolutions, or even Intend to follow through with them when they're made at the beginning of every year. However, this year will be different for me. I have been playing poker at casinos and in home games for almost 20 years, and have focused mainly on nlh for the past three or four years, and I finally started playing poker online during the Autumn of 2005. As 2006 begins, I am making my first set of new year's resolutions in a long, long time, all related to my poker playing, including my style, my attitude and my results. So here goes:

1. Win an MTT this year. Although lately (see previous post) pokerstars has been strictly preventing me from succeeding in their MTTs, in general I like to play their MTTs more than any others, because ps regularly has the $1, $2 and $3 buyin tourneys, each every hour in the evening it seems like, and that is my best opportunity to get practice in large tournaments without even having to put up a significant buyin. I have probably played in around 100 of those small buyin tournaments, and I have maybe cashed in about 15% of them, a number which itself I should definitely improve. But it is clear that ps is fixed to help the donkeys suck out on the Players, so I don't feel too bad about that overall number. Despite the fixedness, however, my highest finish has been I think 31st place out of around 1100 entrants, to go along with a few other finishes in the 40s and 50s in similar-sized tournaments. In 2006, I want to WIN one of these large MTTs. I have won tournaments on one table, two tables, three tables, 5 tables and even 8 tables, but have never been able to pull it together to win a big one, and I think 2006 is the time.

2. Stop steaming so much. As much as I am ashamed to admit it, I steam at LEAST as bad as Phil Hellmuth does when I get stoopidly beat. I mean, I know the reason for this (in addition to my short-tempered nature in general) -- when all the chips move in, I probably have the best hand 90-95% of the time. This is obviously a good thing, in that it confirms just how solid of a player and a reader of other players I am, but it also creates a situation where I am *constantly* in a situation where I can get bad beat on, and I am almost *never* in the reverse situation where I have the opportunity to lay a beat on someone else. As a result of that, and of playing a lot on pokerstars which is obviously designed to increase the donkeys' chances of drawing out, I probably see maybe 15 to 20 times more bad beats laid on me than I ever get to lay on someone else. Again, it's not that I think the odds are being manipulated against me; rather, it is that I am almost ALWAYS in a situation where I have the best hand, probably 20 or more times as much as when I have the worst hand, so by definition I am going to have way WAY more beats laid on me than the reverse. Anyways, this situation where I get bad beat 15 or 20 times as often as I lay a beat on someone combines with my short-tempered nature to make me act like the Poker Brat, if not much, much worse. And it happens far too often. I'm ashamed to admit it, but in these low-limit buyin tournaments, watching myself go from the Literal Chip Leader out of 700 players down to 560th place in one bad, stoopid, emBARRassing beat is enough to just make me throw in the towel. I have been known at that point to just literally move all in with 35o when the flop comes AKQ suited and there are 3 betters and 2 raisers ahead of me. I just want out. I type nasty things in the chat, and I throw my game away. I've never done this in a live tournament and frankly have never even been close to it, but there is just something about the anonymity of online poker, and about the ability to just do another low-limit sng in two minutes, that leads me to act like a buffoon like this, much more often than I care to admit. That definitely needs to change in 2006.

3. Continue to get better at trusting my instincts. While this is something which I am already fairly strong at, it still happens more often than it should that I *know* I am beat, but I still call just to see it. This has cost me more than a few buyins in these large tournaments. Yes pot odds can justify a lot of calls even if you're not 100% sure you have the best hand at the moment, but sometimes, when you play as much as I do, you just KNOW. In 2006, when I *know*, I resolve not to make myself confirm what I already knew.

Down On My Luck

I have lost 13 *consecutive* nlh tournaments on PokerStars on bad beats. That's right folks, and unfortunately there is no exaggerations -- Thirteen Consecutive Tournaments, all on the same site. Why do I keep playing on ps having been bad beat out of THIRTEEN consecutive tournaments, you ask? Mainly for the blogger tourneys, which I love to participate in. But I have Zero chance of winning, because ps has it out for me. No, I'm not paranoid, I don't think people are out to get me. BUT, ps is fixed, and I have never been shy about saying so in the chat. I've said it to the point that I've received email warnings from ps that I am not permitted to "attack the integrity of the games" in the chat, which is a joke since the software it set up to help or hurt individuals or classes of players at their whim. What other site would DARE issue warnings to people for claiming the software is fixed? No one but ps, the biggest fixer of them all, which is why they can't have people blabbing the truth to the other players. Anyways, I've had my chat privileged suspended, I've had my player note-taking privileges suspended for 5 days at least four separate times, and then finally last week when I suffered the worst bad beat of my poker career, I went off on ps in the chat to the biggest degree yet. The result? Starting from that point, I have been bad beat out of 13 straight tournaments, all but one occurring on the river.

Incidentally, here is the bad beat that put me over the edge. I had pocket 9s, and the flop comes K-K-9. I bet small, someone raises, and I just smooth call the boatflop because I'm that kind of guy and I am about to give my opponent an education from a Real Player. Well, imagine my smugness when the turn comes another 9, giving me quads. I check it, the other guy bets big, and I think for a few seconds (baiting him to call) before moving in the rest of my chips on my "sure thing". He quick calls, which makes me laugh given my hand, and he has AK, giving him trip kings but not enough to catch me. Not enough, that is, until the fourth King comes on the river, giving him quad Kings over my Quad 9s. It's enough to tilt any mortal.

So anyways, ps is fixed. And now, after threating me Numerous times with suspending my playing privileges, stopping me from taking notes or chatting, now ps is targeting me individually, ensuring that I cannot make it far in ANY of their tournaments. That's right, they're not even man enough to just suspend my play. They'd rather keep taking my money but give me no chance or ability to win. It's disgusting. If not for the blogger tourneys that Unfortunately continually play there, I would have withdrawn everything from that site weeks ago. If past experience is any guide, their targeted fixings usually last about a week, so I may be nearing the end of it (hopefully). I'll know because at this point I invite my frigging FRIENDS to come watch me get beat out on the river, and it will be very obvious if in just ONE tournament I don't get bad beat. It's been so long I can't even remember what that feels like anymore - actually Having a Chance to win on my own merits. It's been a week at least.

Thank god for the 1-table sng's at PartyPoker, still the softest tournaments I have ever run into, or my bankroll would be in serious trouble.