Monday, February 27, 2006

A Straight-Up Bad Beat Story

Felicia, Stop Reading This Now!!! This is nothing more than a bad beat post. No commentary, no complaining, just the facts of the beat, ma'am.

Last night, I'm playing in the 25k guaranteed tournament on ftp. I'm doing great too -- I've outlasted about 2/3 of the original players, and I'm maybe 100 or so spots from the money and in about 30th percentile of the remaining players. I am very satisfied with my performance thus far. Then I am dealt AKo in middle position. Long story short, I get allin preflop with some other guy who moved in on me when he was holding AKo as well. The board comes with four suited cards to his King, and he beats my "identical" hand with a stupid runnerrunnerrunnerrunner flush. That is just wrong.

Very next hand, I am now crippled and among the bottom 10 or 20 players remaining in the tournament. But at least I am dealt AA immediatley following that beat, and I'm thrilled to receive not one not two but FIVE callers of my allin bet with the rockets. So I'm actually in decent shape to get back into contention. When we flip, the best hand out there of the five "players" who called me is AQo. Long story short, some zobo who called with A-10 suited flushes on me on the river, cracking my rockets and IGHN. Just like that.

Fucking SICK.

Why Oh Why

Why oh why do I persist in starting up large tournaments that I know going in I am HOPING to be in for a while, when I know it's too late and I'm already feeling very sleepy before the thing even starts? I mean, the first one or two times I did this it was dumb, but almost cute in a way as I cut my chops playing online. I had to learn that yes it is different from playing in a casino or in some other live game, where within reason I really can't see myself POSSIBLY falling asleep at the table, but sitting in front of your computer at 1am when you know you have to be up again before 6am for work that same morning, it is far easier than at any live game to lose your focus, and I have most definitely even dozed off once or twice during a tournament run before. Lately, I haven't been falling asleep, but eventually when I know that is coming I just start moving in with any Ace, and then if I'm really falling asleep, it becomes any King, any Queen and eventually just any card over a 10, all in an attempt to just give up, lose all my chips and close my heavy eyelids for the night. Which is SO dumb considering that this is MY MONEY I'm dealing with here! Moreso, even this allin plan is funny to me in that I always tell myself at the time that if I somehow double up, that would wake me up enough to continue, but in reality in most cases I'm far too gone at that point. It's 1am, I was up all day chasing after and taking care of two screaming kids, worked out, etc., and now I'm trying to sit in silence for 3 hours at my pc starting at 11pm, when most normal people are already in the sack? It's hard work, most of my readers will know exactly what I'm talking about. But then WHY DO I KEEP DOING THIS?

One big goal I have for the rest of this year, and forever for that matter, is simply not to play anymore when I'm at that point. Even the most basic of poker books includes that advice, almost as an obvious truism in most cases. I just need to remember that the next time I fire up a pokerstars 180 sng at 11:30pm. WTF am I thinking?! Just. Plain. Stupid.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Lot to Catch Up On

OK first things first: The two WWdN blogger tournaments since my last post. First, all I'll say about the East Coast tourney this past Tuesday night is that I went out second. No, that's not a misprint and I really meant to say "in second", I was actually the second person out of the tourney. When the hand started, no one else was out yet in fact, such that when I busted I thought for sure I was going to have the dubious distinction. But luckily my boy TacTix from the growing Calgary poker blogger contingent somehow managed to bomb out just seconds before me so I got to leave shamed, but not emotionally ruined. Incidentally, I basically blame myself and a good play by an unknown opponent that did me in -- on the flop I had top pair (8s) and a paint kicker, but I failed to perceive my opponent's slow playing of pocket 10s, which eventually cost me all my chips. Kudos to the nomad who outplayed me on that one.

***As an important aside, props go out to our esteemed host Wil Wheaton for his 23rd place finish at the WPT invitational in LA. Congratulations, Wil, on that showing and in outlasting all the other celebs in the tournament. AND of course on mentioning the bloggers in your bust out interview, as reported by Pauly.***

Back to last night's WWdN tournament, sans Wil due to his asskickage in LA. I had already been playing great poker through most of the evening, being on a 5-hour binge since Mrs. Hammerplayer left for the ballet (ha ha!), so I entered the tournament feeling great, determined and expecting to final table for the second consecutive West Coast WWdN. Things started off in that direction for me, as I played tight but aggressive early, stole a few pots where I knew others were weak, and then I made a huge allin bet on the turn with a board of K944 and me holding just 97, but I had had a read all hand from my single opponent that he did not hit the flop and was just playing two high cards. He called me with AQ, obviously not believing that I had hit the flop either, and I doubled up early. In fact,
you can see for yourself just how hot I started off just 19 minutes into the tourney.

Even after that first hand, though, my Hand of the Night was still yet to come. About 30 minutes after the screenshot above was taken, I was then in 3rd place in the tourney with 30 players remaining, and I look down to find KK in middle position. Now, those of you who know me or read my blog know that, basically, I am just a deceptive kind of guy. I'm always a threat to slow play, or to set you up for a future move, etc., and sometimes I almost do that to a fault. So here, when it's checked around to me, I give the customary 3 or 4 second hesitation, and then I bet out 2.5x the pot. Those paying attention at the table would already know that this is a bit lighter than my usual raise of 3-5x the BB, a la Dan Harrington. This of course is done to give someone a reason to call my bet, or better yet, raise me so I can go allin on their asses. Anyways, some unsuspecting poor sap, a guy named CoryTV who happens to currently be in 2nd place in the tournament (ie, one of the few guys who could actually double me up) falls right into my trap, and not only sees my bet but moves in on me. I quick call and triumphantly flip over my pocket Kings. Now I know here in the story is where you're expecting me to tell you he showed me Aces. Nope. The Guy I Dominate confidently flipped up his 10-10, and I was an 80% favorite to hold a Monstrous Chip Lead in the WWdN, an almost insurmountable lead.

ThenA10CameOnTheFlopAndIGHNJustLikeThat. There. I said it. All one word so I got it out as fast as possible. Everyone at my table was there to see it, and it was pure ugliness. Yes we had a new chip leader, but it wasn't me. Un fuggin real. Congratulations to Pastamancer who took it down in the end.

Next, I ventured into the world of live poker this week for the first time in several months. I got together with my old poker crowd on Wednesday night for a couple hours of cash game dealers choice, followed by a nlh tournament, the usual staple for these guys. It was fun, except for one major issue: the dealer's choice tournament turned into just one 2-hour long orbit of Omaha high, and that was it. Between telling stories, watching the tv and ordering and eating dinner, we only ended up playing 9 hands of Omaha before the cash game portion of our evening was done. Fortunately, I played ubertight with my cripey hands, and then when I held Q-10-x-x on a flop of 89J with two clubs, I moved in on the flop with the nuts at the time, and got called by not one but two flush draws. My nuts held, and I tripled up in the cash game playing Omaha high. My luck in the nlh tournament was not as good. I was short stacked through most of the tournament, and eventually the blinds ate away at me and caused me to move in blind from the BB in 4th place out of 4 remaining players, with the top 3 getting payouts. The SB called my raise, and she flipped over Q6s, I terrible hand to call an allin with. I flip my hand over for the first time and find....AJo! What a thrill. I've already estimated that I'll be just a few chips shy of third place after the double-up, but then a 6 comes on the flop, and no help to me, and IGHN. That one was really annoying. So I missed the money by 1 place in the tourney, I tripled up in the one orbit of Omaha high cash game, so in all I made about 100% profit on the night. Sadly that only amounts to $5, but hey it's not about the dollars so much as the percentage profit, right?

Now on to last night's non-WWdN poker action. As I mentioned above, the wife went to the ballet, leaving me to put the baby to sleep and then with little choice other than to play some solid poker all night long. On the bad side, I played in four different 18-person $6 buyin sngs on full tilt to try to get one of the top four spots' $26 token to get me into the winner's choice tournament satellites, and I failed to cash in any of them. Closest I got was out in 6th place on a bad beat, but bad beats killed me throughout those sngs and I came away from that empty handed.

I also played both of the pokerstars $5 buyin tournaments on Thursday evening. The first was regular speed and started just after 8pm. I was aggressive as all get-out, and stole TONS of pots. There were 1563 entrants, and I made the cash at around 10:30pm ET, still in the top half of remaining players. I held firm, tightened up a bit but remained aggressive once we were in the money positions, and when I picked up AA I managed to get not one but two allins ahead of me before pulling down a big pot and vaulting me near the top of the leaderboard, where I remained through several levels of the payout structure. Eventually as the blinds ate away at me, I moved in in late position with A-10s with it folded around to me, but the big blind called me with KK and I was done. Still, I was very pleased with my performance:

Out in 47th out of 1563 players, for a nice little payout for my efforts.

While the $5 tourney was going on, I got a broadcast message in the chat feature for the Turbo $5 tournament that was starting, so I went and joined that one as well. The large $5 and $10 buyin events at ps have always been my most successful big tourneys online, so I like to get in as much as possible when I can, and the Turbo event is particularly fun but also very demanding because of just how quickly the blinds advance (every 5 minutes). There is no room for taking it easy with big hands -- you have to get in there strong preflop and definitely make a move when you hit the board big, because you just don't have very many chances to chip up before the blinds eat you alive. Anyways, to make a very long story short, that turbo $5 tournament had 1633 entrants, and:

I ended up in 51st place in that one as well, for a larger payout since this one did not use the fish-friendly 20% payout structure that so many of the large ps tourneys seem to subscribe to nowadays. In that tournament I lost almost my entire stack when I got in with QQs against my opponent's AJ, but then the fishmonger sugged out a straight on the river and I was basically crippled. It's a tough way to go, but fighting it out to the end of these big turbo tournaments is such a crapshoot, the horrendously poor beat just didn't bother me nearly as much as it often does in the regular-speed tournaments.

In all, I've been up to lots of pokery goodness lately and wanted to share some of the stories here.

The wife is going BACK to the ballet again tonight (yippee!), so look for me, hoyazo, on pokerstars, full tilt AND party, starting at around 8pm ET. I'll be playing some more $26 token sngs on ftp, the 40k guarantee on party, and probably my usual gamut of pokerstars sngs and big tournaments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Live Blog -- Party 40k Guaranteed Tournament

10:20pm ET: Shuffle up and deal, the cards are in the air. 2311 total players, top 220 paid. Very similar payout structure to the million dollar guaranteed tournament this past weekend. Maybe that's an omen for tonight.

10:26pm: Dealt pocket Kings in middle position. Folded around to me, I put in raise of just under 3x the BB. Get two callers. Flop 642 rainbow, the ultimate set of rags. I bet 2/3 the pot, get one caller. Turn is another 4. I check but am chagrined that my opponent checks as well instead of faling for my admittedly weak slow play. River is a 9, I bet 1.25 times the pot, and my opponent folds.

10:31pm: Hand #12, dealt A-10o. I raise just under 4x the BB, and nobody calls. I'll take that All Day Long with A-10o.

10:41pm: I raise 3x preflop with 10-Js, and find two callers. Flop comes Q-10-5 with one of my suit. I bet the pot, get one caller. Turn is the 6, also of my suit. So now I have second pair and decently high kicker, plus a flush draw, and I just don't have a read on my opponent for holding a Queen. He seems to be drawing if I had to guess. River is a raggy 2, I move in, and my opponent folds, giving me a nice 1025 chip pot. Average is 3600 chips, I have 4050.

10:50pm: Dealt pocket Kings again, this time with two callers already in front of me preflop. Raise it to 4x the BB, and I take it down right there. Again, I'll take it, all things considered. Average is 3900 chips, I'm at my highest yet at 4400 and change.

10:53pm: Dealt pocket 8s in middle position, I raise it to 4x. One caller. Flop of Q-10-10. It's checked to me, so I put my opponent all-in, which he calls with QK, and I lose about 40% of my stack. It was a ballsy play, and not very smart given the texture of that particular flop.

10:55pm: Pocket 8s again, the very next hand. I raise to 4x preflop, get one caller, and then push on a flop of K94 with two spades. Opponent folds.

10:57pm: Pocket 6s. I raise to 4x preflop, get one caller (the same caller as the previous two hands). Flop is J82 rainbow. I bet 2/3 of the pot, opponent calls, but I knew it was a weak call. On the turn of an 5, I hesitate briefly and then push, and he folds. Back up to 3600 with an average stack of 4400.

11:06pm: I push with 33 and win about 400 chips in blinds and limps, one hand after losing 500 chips after getting in with top pair, only to lose to the short stack at the table who was conveniently dealt a higher pocket pair. Average stack of 4700, my stack is 2700. Not good.

11:09pm: After 4 limpers, I move in preflop with KK. I double up when someone calls me with A8o (Fizh!!), and for ONCE no Ace comes on the board. Average is 5100 chips, I have nearly 5200.

11:11pm: Dealt pocket 9s in late position. Raised to 700 (3.5x BB), one caller. Flop of Q54 with 2 spades. I move in, get a call from someone with 10-10. I am dropped to 1900 chips, average stack of 5300.

11:15pm: Call raise of 2x the BB with 69 of diamonds. Flop includes the 8 and 10 of diamonds. One player bets out 200, I move in. Get one caller from someone with just two high cards, as I have established a VERY loose image after 8 pocket pairs in the first hour alone. I pull the Ace of diamonds on the turn for the flush, and I am back over 4000 chips late in Round 1.

11:20pm: Into the first break with 4048 chips, average stack is 5900 and change. Not a great first round, but I survived, with now just 1173 out of 2311 entrants left standing.

11:27pm: Dealt pocket 4s. No one calls my 4x raise. Up to 4400 chips.

11:35pm: Dealt A-10s. First position raises to 2x the BB. I move in. Everyone folds, and I pick up 1050 in blinds and bluffs. Back to 4950 in chips, with average stack of 7200. I really need to start thinking about doubling up quick before the leaders get completely out of my league.

11:45pm: Limped in early position with 89 of diamonds. Flop came 7-10-K to give me an oesd. The first limper minbet, I hesitated and then pushed in. Everyone folded except for the minbettor, who eventually fishcalled with just A-10o, for second pair - top kicker, but a hand that would lose to ANY King in my hand, and yet he did have the lead when making the call. Until the turn came a 6, and I hit my first straight in literally as long as I can remember. Up to 9600 chips, average stack is 9100.

11:48pm: Next hand, my J4 is good when I bet on the turn following three checks on the flop. Just over 10,000 chips and still going fairly strong.

11:52pm: I bet 4x the BB with my A9o, and get no callers.

11:53pm: Dealt AKs in first position. I just call. I smooth call my opponent's minbet on a flop of Q-10-4, figuring I have the inside straight draw, plus the two overs, and they are concealed since I just called with the big slick preflop. When the dream Jack comes on the turn, I also just smooth call a minbet, hoping to make some more on the river. The river pairs the top card on the board (Queen), but my straight remains good as I move in and elicit a fold from my opponent. Nearly 13,000 in chips with an average stack of around 10,800 chips.

12:02am: Dealt my third KK of the tournament. First position already bumped it 3x, so I raise to 4x his bet, and he folds, leaving me with 15000 chips for the first time tonight.

12:03am: I limp in with 3 other callers with 66. Flop comes 752 rainbow. First position minbets, I raise him 5x his bet. He deliberates and the folds. I'm up to 17,400 chips, with an average just under 12,500.

12:07am: Dealt pocket Aces. The button raises 2x with it's folded around to him, so I raise him about 3 times his bet. He reraises me, I push, and he calls and flips AQs. I win that pot, bust him from the tourney, and have over 26,500 chips, with the average at around 13,800. I'm in fairly good shape now for the first time all tournament long so far. And that guy is a SuperFish, because it was OBVIOUS at that point that I had at LEAST KK if not AA after the 3rd raise.

12:19am: My A7o sucks out against my short stacked opponent's AQo when I hit two pair with a 7 on the turn. I am now up to 31,000 chips. Average stack is just under 16,800. Largest stack is 71,000+. I'm still in very solid shape in the tourney, which right now has just 412 left out of 2311 entrants. Top 220 to be paid.

12:24am: I enter the second break with 30,880 in chips. There are just 377 players remaining in the 22k guaranteed tournament, with almost 2000 players already eliminated. Blinds are about to go up to 600/1200 with a 50 chip ante, so the price of poker is really getting up there as we head into the final stretch before the payouts begin.

12:35am: First nine hands of Round 3 bring nothing higher than a 10. I can't even steal blinds with this cripe.

12:39am: I check from BB with 59o, just one caller. Dream flop comes 558. I bet small, induce a call from my opponent. Turn is an Ace. I execute the slow play to perfection, checking now on the "scare card", and my opponent checks behind me. River is a rag, and I bet 2x the pot, expecting to take it down right there. I'm thrilled to get a reraise allin, which I quick call. And my opponent flips....A5. He takes down the pot with his boat over my flopped trips, and I am absolutely crippled at about 5200 chips remaining, one of the shorter stacks remaining in the tournament. What a fugly way to go, on a setup like that. It would have been impossible for me NOT lose a lot of money on that hand. If anyone disagrees with my play, I'd love hear about it in the comments.

12:43am: I move in in middle position with my last 5555 chips with 33 and no one in the pot yet ahead of me. The guy immediately to my right is the only caller, and he shows AK. But, consistent with my repeated history online, I can't beat AK with a pair in ANY race situation no matter WHAT I do, and this was no exception. He hits his Ace (on the mullaflucking river, of course), and I am out in 280th place. No cash, nothing to show for my tremendous effort. It's enough to make me sick.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PokerStars $6x18 Turbo Tourney

V and I played another of the $6 buyin, 18 person turbo sng's on pokerstars tonight, after I won two out of two of these things yesterday. The result:

Overall last night, I lost about 50 cents, and had a ton of fun playing some really good poker. I won the $36 in the 6x18 sng, but I finished in the bottom third of the pokerstars $10 tourney when my AJ in the cutoff with no one in the pot yet, proved to be up against AK in the BB, and I was done, much earlier than I like to be in these things. And, I entered the full tilt satellite to the $200 buyin tournament on Wednesday night, in which I went out in 19th out of 56 when my QQ got bad beat with my opponent's AJo. Dam I HATE it how much an Ace flops on the river when I have Kings or Queens. I would blame that on online poker, but that particular occurence seems to happen just as much in live games.

Anyways, the story of the evening for me has to be that 6x18 sng on stars. That is three wins in my last three of these tourneys. You do NOT want to be up against me in one of these things.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Confidence Begets Confidence

As I mentioned here earlier, I cashed in the Party million dollar guaranteed tournament this weekend, and since then I have been riding on a confidence high not seen since I final tabled three events in ten days in January. I not only had my largest single cash in an online event, but I withdrew a nice cashout from my party account, the first time I've ever done that on party, and the whole thing just feels good.

With my newfound confidence, my buddy V, who railbirded me throughout the million dollar guarantee, convinced me to play a $6 buyin, 18-person turbo sng on pokerstars. Usually he is a single-table sng guy, but I guess he knows I prefer the larger tournaments, and to compromise he suggested the 2-table tournaments, a format with which I have seen much success in my time of playing online.

Long story short, I won the tourney:

Then V, who bubbled out of the first one, got me to do another of the exact same format tournaments:

It was a good night.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Party Poker Million Dollar Guaranteed Tournament, and DADI III

I'm playing in the party million dollar guaranteed tournament right now. This is the 7th hand and I haven't played anything yet. Wish me luck and I'll keep this updated here with my results.


Well, I managed to cash in the million dollar guaranteed tournament on party today. I came in 203rd place out of 1820 entrants, for a nice payout of $764.40:

Given that this is my first attempt in any tournament anywhere NEAR this large from a buyin perspective, I am really thrilled with the result. In the end, I got busted with A5o and a short stack, when it was folded around to me on the button, so I had a very good shot of having the best hand at that point. Unfortunately, after much deliberation, the small blind called my allin bet and flipped over AQ, and I was done. It wouldn't bother me so much, but about 20 or 30 hands earlier, I had had about three times as many chips as I had when I went out, and was in the top 25% or so of the remaining players. Nonetheless, while I certainly didn't play every single hand optimally, there isn't any hand that I am upset or disappointed about as I think back about it. I am just really thrilled to have (1) not gone out early, (2) not gotten sucked out on in super annoying fashion and (3) to have actually cashed. My balance at party now rockets up to an all-time high, and I'm feeling very confident heading into the rest of my poker play this weekend. Special thanks to V who railbirded me and chatted on the IM during the tourney, in addition to E who sat with me for most of the tournament and provided advice as well. It was fun and I look forward to playing in this tournament again soon (hopefully!).


By the way, just a few quick words about the latest DADI event this past Friday evening. It was a heads-up matchup, and extra special thanks go out to Jordan from HighonPoker and TripJax for setting the whole thing up. I thought the format of the tournament was super fun. I played a great opening matchup against Byron, who held his own with me and would not give up despite my winning 72 out of 107 hands that we played in our matchup, and I finally got past him by slow playing KK and inducing a move-in in the way that only I can. As Byron and I had played for quite a long time, we got almost no break before the second-round matcups began. My second matchup was with someone I did not recognize, and he was a bit more aggressive and harder to deal with than Byron, though I still ended up winning more hands than he did as I once again managed to establish my table image after several hands as being the guy who dictates the pace of the heads-up matchup. So, after about 20 hands, when my K9 hit a flop of K62 rainbow, I moved in and got called by....K7. But was I elated to be moving on? Nope, no when the frucking 7 came on the turn, and I was out after inducing ANOTHER all-in move when I again had the best hand. Oh well, so I was out fairly quick in the end in the DADI, but I thoroughly enjoyed the heads-up structure of the tournament, and I hope we continue to do more of these things in the future.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Finally, Success (Kind of)

Tonight was a moderately significant poker night for me. I knew the West Coast WWdN (sans Wil) was at 11:30, so I warmed up around 11 with a 6x12 sng on pokerstars, which I managed to win outright about 5 minutes into the WWdN tourney. Then, to top it off, I finally final-tabled the WWdN!

despite getting much fewer good cards than one would normally expect to need in order to do some damage in an nlh tournament. It helped of course that it was a smallish turnout -- under 40 total players I believe -- and I did play my few good hands well. The problem, as usual, was the way I went out at the final table. I was in 6th out of 7 remaining players, with only 5 actually getting payouts mind you thanks to the low turnout, and I was basically in push territory. Which was good when I was dealt 10-10 in the small blind, and when I pushed I was overjoyed to get a call from the shortstacked BB, and even to see him flip AKo, because I knew I was at least a small favorite. Problem is that his King ended up rivering him a flush, and half of my chips were gone just like that.

Now this is where it gets particularly frustrating from my perspective. TWO hands later, I am dealt 99 in mid-late position, all fold to me, so I push again with my now very short stack. The same player one to my left calls me again, and flips...
AKo AGAIN! Twice I am dealt a decently high pocket pair in 3 hands at a final table, and BOTH times the same guy was dealt big slick. So he calls me again, and this time an Ace flops, and I am out of the tournament, just like that. Now I know neither of these plays can be called a bad beat by any stretch given the fact that I was just a 53% or so favorite on each. But, the odds of him winning BOTH of those races with the short end of the odds in both situations, those come out to somewhere south of 25%. So I call the whole thing a bad beat. And a frustrating one. Still though I am gratified to have un-embarrassed myself for at least one day in front of the blogger community, and look forward to repeating my final tableness in a larger WWdN next Tuesday at 8:30pm ET.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Lots of Tournament Pokery Goodness

Last night was like a festival of tournament pokery goodness for me. Not so much in my results (I ended down $1 on the night), but in the number of quality tournaments I was able to play.

After enjoying a nice dinner of sushi with the lovely HammerPlayerette, she was sleepy and passed out while watching the latest episode from Season 4 of the Sopranos on the DVR. Leaving me with basically no CHOICE but to log on a bit earlier than usual to my online poker site(s) of choice. What I found was that, as a general statement, there is just much more opportunity for low buyin ($5-$10) large tournaments online before 10pm ET than there are starting around 10pm ET. I guess they figure all the east coasters are logging off by then, except for the drunks, and the hardcore players, neither of which needs the optimal low-buyin tournaments to draw them into playing on a given site. The result:

1. The night started with me entering the $10 buyin, 10-minute levels tournament on pokerstars. 1080 players entered, with the schedule set to pay the top 99 players. I played very well, was never able to build up a huge stack but stayed above the average stack size most of the way through. Eventually I pushed as a short stack well into the second hour when I looked down to find AKo, but when three people called my allin bet, I knew I was done. In the end I lost to a guy with 77 who turned another 7 to make trips and win a big pot, and my day in this tournament was done, out in 255th place out of 1080.

2. The next tournament I started was the $5 buyin on party, which I had never seen before given that I'm not usually playing poker before 10pm ET or so. This one had 991 entrants and paid the top 100 finishers. I ended up semi-bubbling, as I made it through most of Round 2 with an around-average chipstack, but ended up going out in 129th place on the Very First Hand of Round 3. There is something obscene about waiting around through the 5 minute break late at night, eyelids heavy, nervous, etc., only to get busted on the very first hand of the new round. But that was me last night. I held KJ of clubs, limped in, and saw a flop of K94 with the 9 and 4 of clubs. I had reason to believe that my top pair and Jack kicker was good, given that my opponent (the only one who stayed in after the flop) had been demonstrably playing ANYthing for almost the entire time I had been at this table (at least an hour or more). I figured I had TPJK AND a near-nut flush draw, so I had to make a play for it, especially with my chip stack having recently shrunk just before the second break to about half of the average stack size. So, I bet about half of my remaining stack, knowing I would have to push in the rest if I were raised, and that's just what my opponent did, which frankly I was happy to call, albeit a bit cautious given his aggressive move when he had to know I was pot committed at that point. I figured at worst I was a dog with my TPJK but with the solid flush draw I had a LOT of outs. I called for the rest of my chips, and he flips over big slick, for TPTK, and my jack kicker was cripe. Of course I see no Jack on the turn or river, and more importantly, no club, and I was gone in 129th place out of 991 players. I was very pleased with my performance, and had fought back several times during Round 1 from near extinction, so despite the no payout, I was moderately pleased with that result.

3. Next came the $8 buyin satellite tourney on full tilt for a seat in the WSOP 100 seat tournament scheduled for mid July. I just couldn't resist the chance to get into that big satellite tournament for only $8 today, and with just 146 entrants, 2 seats were up for grabs and really seemed within my reach. Unfortunately, I was never able to get going in this event, getting bad beat on in the first round to be short stacked the entire way through the tournament, and I ended up going out in 97th place when my K9 on a flop of K62 rainbow lost to K-10, who had checked this hand to me to begin the flop. Well played, sir. God I can't stand getting effectively slow played by someone else. I feel like George Kostanza when the chick uses the "It's not you, it's me" line on him. "I INVENTED the slow play!" I want to say. "You would dare use the slow play on ME?! If anyone is slow playing, it's ME!"

4. The most fun event I played in last night was a new first for me -- the heads-up tournament on pokerstars. This is another event which I don't tend to see since I'm not usually on ps until after these tourneys are done for the night. The big problem with pokerstars' structure is that these things take forever. You have to wait every round for ALL of the matches in that round to be completed. I would estimate that I played for a total of probably around an hour, yet I was in that tournament officially for more than four hours. That just doesn't make sense.

Nonetheless, this was the first time I had played in this structure, on ps or anywhere for that matter. And it was especially interesting for me, given the MANY very negative experiences I have had playing heads up matches online. When I play HU, I am VERY aggressive, and I tend to win a good 2/3 to 3/4 of the pots in any given tournament. As long as I am careful and don't get suckered in to playing my good hand against one of my opponent's hidden great hands, I tend to win because I am so often out there and so often putting the other guy to the decision for all his chips, so I'm almost always in the lead and that, combined with my uncanny knack for slow playing at the right time, creates opportunities for me to knock people out good. And last night was no exception. I won my first match early as my slow played AQs beat out my opponent's A8o. I won my second match similarly quickly, as both of those first two opponents were flat out fish when it comes right down to it. My third match, the one I needed to win in order to make the money, was a bit harder, as this guy started off right away at least playing back at me from time to time, even with not such a strong hand, and doing his best to take away some pots from me when neither of us hit much of anything (always the key to heads up when it comes right down to it). Unfortunately for him, his resolve to play in this aggressive style quickly faded (within one blind round or so) as it crumbled in the face of my relentless aggression and stack pushing, and I managed to put him out of commission when he moved in with A3o against my slow-played JJ. Down to just 16 players remaining, this was where the actually good players were remaining, so after waiting another 30 minutes or so for Round 4 to start, I began my matchup with the first consistently good heads up player I had seen yet in the tournament. Fortunately, over just a small number of hands I was able to ascertain that I was still a better heads up player than my opponent; unfortunately, I got TOTALLY housed with the cards I was playing, and after my straight lost to his flush on hand #1, my top 2 pairs lost to his trips on hand #12, my 2nd and 3rd pairs on the turn lost to his top and bottom pairs that came on the river on hand #15, and finally, on a severe short stack on hand #16, my A6o lost to his 94o, I was mercifully done. Nonetheless, I won $57 for my efforts, and for my first-ever heads up tourney, I was very pleased with the performance, especially in light of this coming Friday's big DADI III heads-up challenge tournament, which I intend to win of course.

So in all, a lot of good poker was played last night by me. Despite having little to show for it in the way of actual cash, I feel like I got back on track after several days of suckiness, and if that momentum can just propel me to further success in these next few days, then hopefully I can head into Saturday's million dollar guarantee tournament on party with a new resolve and new optimism that I will not donkify myself like always seems to happen in the WWdN tournaments.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Better Day

Today was a *slightly* better day at the tables. I took a bit of a hiatus from pokerstars, and played again in the Full Tilt 16k guarantee. Mrs. Hammerplayer and I were watching the Sopranos On Demand in preparation for the new season coming up next month, and it was going to run past the 10pm start to the ftp 16k tourney, but literally at the last minute she got a call from an old friend and I was saved. I logged in and took my seat immediately, feeling very lucky to have made the tourney due to some very fortunate unforeseen events, and determined to ride that luck into the first round of the 16k. Unfortunately, I went out on hand #2 when my Kings were cracked by some digg's Ax suited. There ya go.

Then I quickly switched over to the Party 40k guarantee tourney at 10:20 (since I wasn't doing anything then even despite starting the ftp 16k at 10pm sharp). I bought in with 9 minutes to go with already 1100 players, and it closed at just over 2100. [Hoyazo thinks: Funny how they always seem to just make those guaranteed minimums, isn't it?]. I played well, and fought my way up to the first break in about 50th percentile with around 790 players remaining. I only managed to double up at the VERY end of the first round, as my cards were not strong, and I could not get action when I wanted it. I did get bad beat two different times in the first round, which really prevented me from being much higher in the standings. Round 2 started off with my 10s falling to someone else's jacks late in the first round -- thankfully he was short stacked so I didn't lose too much of my chips. But what was I supposed to do? I held 10-10 in the BB, it's folded to the SB, a repeatedly PROVEN stealer, who raises to 5x the BB. What else could I do but push against a short stack? Seriously. Then later a guy flopped trips and took about 2/3 of my remaining stack when I flopped top and bottom pair. I simply could not put him on a strong hand, after having already noted him TWICE for overplaying top pair and for overplaying his bluffs and not knowing when to accept defeat. It was just one of those things. Then my tournament ended for the night when I took 22 allin as a short stack with an M of 4.5, and got beat by AQ (of course). Let It Be Known: Hoyazo wins fewer races than Bodie Miller in this year's Olympics. Out in 605th place, yet it was my best showing in a large tournament on party since winning my seat a few weeks ago into the million dollar tournament this Saturday the 18th at 4:30pm ET, and I know I played very well, so I actually felt not bad about my overall performance there.

Then things got good. My buddy R, the party ministep hound, was bugging me on the IM to do a ministep 2, which we both had free tokens for from winning a ministep 1 tournament. So we joined in, and long story short, it got down to me and R in the final 3, with only the final 2 advancing to get a ministep 3 token. I tried hard to get him to give me his chips when I slow played a good hand on the flop, but he didn't buy it and I only took him for a minimal gain. We each reraised the other once or twice preflop with particularly strong hands or strong reads on the other, and we jostled between 1st, 2nd and 3rd throughout the 3-handed portion of our contest. In the end, the third guy, at the time short stacked, moved allin with KJs, and I called with my A8o, it held up, and it was down to just me and R. Although we both were into the next round automatically now, and nothing tangible was at stake between R and I, the egos kicked in and immediately we talked some smack to each other. On the very first hand, I was dealt AKo, a very strong hand heads-up obviously. I then typed to him in the chat "Hey, we both made it in, right? So who wins between us doesn't matter?" knowing full well that we BOTH cared quite a bit who would take the title, just for personal bragging rights purposes. He responds "Yes, that's right," also knowing full well that HE cares immensely, but hoping to get me to do something stoopid so he could call with what he figured was the best hand. So I typed "ok then well why bother, I want to sleep" and I pushed in. He quick called, flipped over KJo, and was viciously angry when he saw my big slick. "Never conch a concher" is what I typed to him as the victory was mine. It felt great to get back into the winner's circle in a party sng, which have not been kind to me of late, and to beat R head to head was especially fine.

Topping off the evening, my buddy V, the pokerstars hound, convinced me on the IM to get on to pokerstars for a quickie 18-person turbo $6 buyin tournament. I got beat down on early when I had to lay down QJ after my 360 chip raise was reraised allin on a flop of J97 with two clubs, leaving me in last place almost from the beginning. He showed KK. I fought back a bit later to get some much-needed chips, but in the end I went down as the short stack in the tournament, out in 13th place when my A6 failed to hold up against JJ. V went on to win the tournament for a healthy $36 profit, so good for him. If V had a blog there would have been a link there, but he's not quite that cool (yet).

Annoyed at my showing in the 18-person sng, I quickly moved into a $25 turbo 1-table tournament on ps, which I made to heads-up in about 35 minutes. I started with a 2-to-1 shortfall in chips, but quickly took the lead by Doing My Headsup Thing, which means always being able to read my opponent for what he has, and always betting him out whenever I have a better hand or know he doesn't have one he's willing to go with. Eventually I took two stoopid beats in the span of 3 or 4 hands, and I was out in second, for a nice $40 profit. Counting the $55 party ministep 3 entry I won, I made a good $30 or $40 on the night, so I can't complain about that. Not the way things have been going recently anyways.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I am pissed. Really, really pissed. I'm going through another one of those "variance" phases where I am just getting chewed up and spit out regularly. It's like the poker sites are literally going out of their way to create increasingly unbelievable beats for me. And, I get more play from donkeys lately than Miss Hee-Haw 2006, which is never a good thing.

Tonight I played the 16k guaranteed on full tilt for the first time. I played great. Not just good, but really great. I bluffed people off of pots, I played my super strong hands in the best possible way, extracting all of several players' chips while I rode to a top 10% place as of the first break. Even after suffering two looptid beats early in Round 2, I was still in 118th out of 292 remaining (top 81 to be paid out) when my flush ran into not a boat, but QUAD 9s. Okay, okay you say, everyone runs into quads eventually if you play a lot, which I do. But then just NINE HANDS LATER, my flopped trips ran into QUADS AGAIN, this time Queens. WTF?!! After my two quadruple anal probings, I was short, so about ten hands later when I found 22 in last position with no one yet to call before me, I pushed. And got called by AQ. So at least I was a slight favorite to get back a solid chip stack. But NO, Q96 on the river, of COURSE no help for me, and I'm out in 238th place. This tournament was about as good as I can play in one of these things, and I'm still here bitching in the blog afterwards. Not the way I want to play in the last week heading into my million dollar guaranteed tournament on party this Saturday at 4:30pm ET. Right now my confidence is as low as it's been since my recockulous streak of bad beats on pokerstars late in 2005. It is increasingly hard to keep putting up actual money to play in these tournaments where lately I just don't feel like I have a chance of winning. Dam I hate going to sleep pissed like this.

79 Out Of 94

This afternoon I played some clown in a heads-up match. We played 94 hands, and I won 79 of them. 79 out of 94 hands! Now I know it's obviuously not about how many hands you win, but only if you win the last one, but still. 79 out of 94 hands were won by me. This was a guy who I bluffed out of pots like it was my job. He SCREAMED it out to me every time he didn't have a hand he wanted to go with, and every time I dominated him into folding. Again and again and again. Every time I raised preflop, he autofolded, except a couple of times when he had a strong hand, in which case that was obvious so I didn't lose any more money into that pot.

Nonetheless, I lost the tournament despite this kind of domination that you just hardly ever see. I hit the nut flush on the turn and duped him into sticking with me, but he rivered a boat. I slowplayed him when I hit trips on the flop with my pocket pair, and he calls me all-in with just top pair and medium kicker, only to make his higher trips when the top card on the board pairs on the turn. I get him allin with his K8 and a King on the flop, but I flip K-10 and he's done. Until the 8 on the river gives him another miracle. Finally on the last hand, I get him in with A10 against my QQ and a flop of QJx. Then a 9 comes on the turn, and of COURSE the 8 on the river and I'm done. I've never seen anything like this beating in my entire lifetime of playing poker. Seriously. Pokerstars had done it to me again.

79 out of 94 guys. Who can beat that story?

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Last night I'm kicking some ass in the pokerstars 180 sng. I'm in like 12th place out of 115 remaining with about 20 minutes or so until the first break. I mean I've been flopping trips with my pocket pairs, bluff reraising, slow playing donkeys to perfection, the whole gamut. I'm really on my game. Then I limp in in the big blind against two other large stacks (both donkeys, btw) with Q-10. Flop comes Q82. Donkey #1 bets, donkey #2 folds, I raise and donk1 calls my raise. Flop is a Jack. Donk1 checks, clarifying exactly how not happy he really is with his hand, so I move in with my top pair solid (clearly better) kicker, he thinks and calls. And flips over....Q9. Now, for ALL the times I need to suckout two pairs against some luckbox who flopped a smaller two pairs with small connectors, etc., and NEVER get it, of course THIS time I hit my 10 on the river for a solid two pairs. Of course it also makes the donkmaster an inside straight with his dominated hand. And of course this ahole had me covered (I'm sure from doing this same thing to some other poor saps), so I was out just like that. I know that this 180 sng is one of the softest tournaments out there overall, but what good is it if I'm going to repeatedly get sugged on by heehawers? That, and the fact that I've sneezed at least 500 times today due to this lovely cold I got from a coworker, and I'm having a *really* annoying weekend thus far.

Friday, February 10, 2006

WWdN Stands For "When Will Donkeys Notdrawoutonmeanymore?"

Seriously. I stayed up until 11:30pm to get a seat in the latest WWdN installment, and seated right at my table were Wes (event winner from last week), and Penner, so an auspicious start to the tourney right there. Add to this that I made a REALLY bonehead play against one of the strangers at the table early on, bluffing off half my chips in a raggy flop after having my preflop raise called, only to see my opponent raise me allin and requiring me to fold with just 700 of my starting 1500 chips after only maybe 10 or 15 minutes in the tournament. Despite that bad beginning, I held on in the 700-1000 chip range for quite a while, not really able to bluff effectively given my short stack, but at least waiting until the first few people started to get eliminated (I canNOT suffer the embarrassment of being the first one out for the SECOND time), and even withstanding several hands after Joanne joined our table, who I have to say has got to be the person with the single most feared reputation among all the bloggers who regularly play in these events. Anyways, finally near the end of the first hour, I managed to get dealt TPTK which then held up against a donkey's flush draw (not-nut even) on the flop, and I checked to see that I had sneaked my way up to 15th out of 40 remaining players (50 started the event). The very next hand, I was dealt 44, and raised it up 3x, getting just one caller. Flop came 2d3s5h. My donkponent checked, and I bet slightly more than the pot. The donkponent, who had been speeding around and calling willy-nilly with ANYthing all night, moved in. It didn't take me much thought to decide I had the best hand with a pair and an OESD, so I called. I flip my 4s, ane donkboy flips....A-10 suited, spades. So he moved me allin with just an inside straight draw, a backdoor flush draw and high card ace, leaving me as a big favorite with two cards to come. Now I'd love to tell you that I lost because a 4 came on the river, giving me trips but him his inside straight, but that's not what happened. I'd even love to say he hit his Ace on the turn and then a 10 on the river to best me with a cheap two pair, but that isn't the story either. Instead, the turn was the 6 of spades, so I made my straight and was nearly unbeatable, and then the river was some other spade, and I lost on a backdoor runner runner flush pull, out in 37th place out of 50 entrants. Disgust doesn't even begin to capture my feeling after yet another not-good showing in WWdN. Pretty soon you people will start thinking I don't know how to play, when in reality I have been dominatory in these things, but have just repeatedly taken it on the chin sometime before the final table.

Also last night I played in my other two bitches, the $5 turbo tourney and the $10 large tourney, both on pokerstars. In the $5 event, I went out in the first round when my QK on a board of J-9-Q-10-8 managed to lose an allin to a guy who had slowplayed big slick the whole way, making a higher straight than mine. You always have to hate it when you're slowplaying, you finally make your big move after successfully executing the slowplay, and then it turns out your opponent was ALSO slow-playing you with an even bigger hand. Not good.

Rounding out the night, I fared much better in the $10 tournament, which had 743 entrants and paid the top 126 (how much do I hate this 20% payout structure btw?! WTF do I want with a $1.13 profit after playing for 4 hours? Jeesh!). I started off solid in the very first round, making a full house over a made nut flush which is always good for a big payout, and then sucking out not one but TWO flush draws against opponents with short stacks, leaving me with 5215 chips, in 48th place out of 340 when the first break hit. Early in Round 2 I limped in with 55, and the flop came...55x. I checked it and ended up winning just a few BBs worth of bets as the flop didn't really help either of my opponents in that hand either, but that did lift me up to 32nd out of 317 remaining at that time. Some hands later I played a JJ for a 4x raise, got one caller from a fairly shortish stack (at least after the 400 was taken from his stack to the middle of the table). Flop came 9-high, he moved in and I had to call, which turned out to be just a flush draw for him that did not fill. I took down a pot in the 1500-chip range, lifting my standing to 12th out of 298 remaining , which swelled even higher later in Round 2 when i moved in another medium stack my 99 on a flop of 557, and got him to call off his chips holding 66, which did not improve, and which boosted me to 11,193 chips, good for 6th place out of 262. Eventually, after making some more money with QQ and 99, and bullying the table with my stack to steal a number of smallish pots, I made it into the cash, eventually ended Round 2 in 9th place out of 117 remaining, with 20,124 in chips. Unbeknownst to me, this was about as good as it would get for me on this night. Shortly into Round 3, I made the "blunder" of raising 5 thou with the Hammer in the SB, and of COURSE the BB just HAPPENS to have AA. My own fault for going nuts with the Hammer, but I mean, I was the SB, everyone had folded around to me, what was I supposed to do? I'm THE Hammer Player for crying out loud. So this dropped me quickly down to 39th out of 102 remaining, and I was never able to regain my former glory from that point. I went completely card dead, and without the big stack it becomes very difficult in the top 100 of these large online tournaments to do much stealing and bullying off of hands. My flop percentage dropped from 25% in the middle of round 2, down to 20% by early in Round 3. Finally, with blinds of 400/800 and a $50 ante, I was in 53rd out of 78 remaining, and everyone folded to me again in the SB. I looked at A5s and moved in on the short stacked BB, who thought momentarily and then donkeycalled me with 67s. Unfortunately he hit not just one pair but two pairs on the flop and I was nearly done. On the very next hand I got allin against this same donkfellow, this time with my QK against his AA. Ouch, and out in 74th place for a $17.08 profit on the tourney.

Overall a fun but frustrating night of online poker. Seems like I'm saying that a whole lot recently. Especially when the WWdN is in town. Yes still I long for next Tuesday, when I am SURE that THIS time, I will redeem myself! Yeah right.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Live Blogging?

I am ashamed to admit it, but last night I tried to live blog three separate tournaments in which I played, but had to keep erasing the posts, because somehow I was transformed yesterday from my usual mild-mannered self into Hee-Haw the Donkey just seconds before I started my first tournament. As a result, I failed to get past the first or second round in any of the three tournaments I entered, so the live blogs were not much to write home about. Of course, when I ended my night by entering the $10 large tourney on pokerstars, MY event, I gave up on the live blogging and that's the one that I managed to stick around in for a while. But while I freely admit that I was Hee-Haw for those first three events, in the $10 tourney I seemed to be back to my old self. Including being in the top 200 out of about 600 remaining (870 entrants total) and having my allin opponent suck out an inside straight on the river against my flopped trip 9s to nearly cripple me, leaving me with just 160 chips with blinds of 100-200. From there I staged one of the greatest comebacks in poker history, getting myself all the way back up to 3800 chips and back into the top half of the remaining players with just around 200 remaining and 162 players geting paid out. While I was setting my sights on making my 5th cash out of my last 7 appearances in the $10 tournament, I was dealt QQ, had a similar sized stack to me move in unprovoked, which I took to be a steal attempt, so I called him. He flipped 10-10 and I was sitting pretty, about to vault into the top 20 in chips of the remaining players. Then the flop of 10-5-4 came, of COURSE no help for me, and I was out, just like that. I went from being Hee-Haw, to playing against Hee-Haw, only when HE was Hee-Haw, he actually GOT the donkey cards to knock me out. Disgusting. And I'm still pissed off ths morning about it. Thank god I'm going to final table Wil's tournament tonight, yknow?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

WWdN Tuesday

Well, I just got knocked out in 31st place out of 99 entrants in the latest installment of the WWdN tournament, and I am Tilty McTilt. It's not the losing that gets to me. It's the fact that my pocket Aces got beat by a guy who drew two pairs with a 10-5o. What the FUCK?!! It's that I was only dealt TWO pocket pairs in the ENTIRE tournament -- those Aces, and Kings earlier, when an Ace flopped (of course) and I was forced to fold (of course), losing my sizeable preflop raise (of course). It's that, after fighting back solidly following my rockets getting cracked, I was crippled once again by a suckout artist holding 10-J to my A5. And with that one, it wasn't enough for me to get beaten...Noooo, I had to endure my opponent flopping jacks while I flopped 5s, but then the Ace on the turn brought me two pairs and the significant lead, only to see the third jack fall on the river. What THE FUCK?!! But don't worry, because when I was allin for my last 969 chips in the SB with QJo, with NO limpers so far behind me (a play I had to make), the BB was STILL able to call with A6, and of COURSE that one held up. But in that case the BB was Sir Waffles, so at least I can take comfort in knowing I was busted by a well respected and respectable poker blogger, and the eventual winner of the entire tournament. Some comfort.

And hey xkm, you aren't STILL sitting by your computer, wagging off with one hand and just PRAYING for me to bust out, are you? You behaved like quite a L-O-S-E-R yesterday after you got beat. And unlike me and several others, YOU got busted fair n square, when bdr called your allin AJ with his AQ. What a read, and what a fuckoff of you. You need to learn to handle the losses better, especially ones that are 100% Your Own Doing. And I got news for you bra, when Hoyazo, the self-proclaimed King of Tilt, is telling you that YOU need to handle losing better, that should be your sign that you need to sit back, take stock, and go read The Zen of Poker or something.

Pissedly yours,

ps I did get to play (and show, of course) two Hammers in the tourney at least, winning preflop with both of them, as well as an 82 suited which I also decided at the last minute to raise big with from the SB with no one else in yet. Waffles says he has a read on my hammer playing, but I'd sure love to see some proof of that. I think Waffles is just lucky he didn't have to test that read anytime before the lack of playable hands combined with the horrific beats on my few playable hands to get me out of this tourney tonight. I'll be back on Thursday night though, make no mistake about it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Good Showings, but No Big Money to Show For It

On this past Friday night, I played in the $10 large tournament on ps, a tournament which I have been owning since final tabling it around the middle of last month. I have entered six of these tourneys in the last few weeks, with the one final table, four top-100 finishes, and one out of the money finish on a quadruple-runner bad beat. This past Friday started off looking like no exception, as I was able to double-up once within the first ten hands when my KK made trips on a dual-slow-played flop to best my opponent's pocket rockets (god I love doing that!). Later in the first round I received KK AGAIN (absolutely unheard of for me), and did not see an Ace on the flop or anywhere on the board, allowing me to pick up some more chips against some fish who thought his 2nd pair and Ace kicker was enough to justify calling my ever growing bets from my big stack. Then in the second round, I nearly tripled up from there when my AQs held up against a crazy guy who had been betting everything and showed 95s, and a somewhat more "conservative" but still quite fishy-smelling player who flipped A9o. So things started off well for me, and out of nearly 1700 entrants, I managed a new first for me, going into the first break as The Tournament Leader with around 11,000 in chips after starting with 1500 an hour earlier.

The second round started with me determined to step up the aggression just a bit, although with such a great chip position I knew it wasn't crucial for me to overplay anything at this point in the tournament. I got a few playable hands, but nothing like during the first round, and it turns out that I held the chip lead in the tournament from around 600 people remaining all the way down to around 240 remaining, as I continued to consistently grow my stack, albeit not at the pace I achieved in Round 1. By the time the second break came around, I had bluffed for about 85% of the pots I had won in Round 2, and had chipped up from 11,000 to around 15,000, still good for top ten of the remaining players, and only about 100 spots away from the cash. And that number would have been higher if I hadn't made an overly aggressive play with The Hammer (true to my name) that resulted in me raising preflop (of course), and then bluffing on the flop against one caller who happened to hit the nut flush on the flop. Ouch.

The third round began in similar fashion, with me suffering my worst bad beat of the tournament (I think I took 3 or 4 bad beats total, which is nothing out of the ordniary in my experience), as my trip Queens lost on the river to a broadway straight for a guy who fishcalled me not ONCE but TWICE over increasing bets on the flop and the turn with nothing but a rotten inside straight draw. This hand knocked me down from top-10 in the tournament to about 60th percentile, a potentially crushing blow, especially to a guy like me who, let's just say, er, MIGHT be PRONE to some SLIGHT tilt, once in a while. My very next hand was 66, which, in my tilted state, was an immediate pushin from early position. I'd love to tell you I was hoping to get some A-x guy to think I was on tilt and just call me, but in reality it's not that, I was just pizzed off. Anyways, that's what happened, AND I flopped a 6 on the river, so I doubled up to get back in the top half, but to be honest I was still stinging from that sick inside straight draw hitting in a HUGE pot on the river. Several hands later came my read of the tournament, as I was dealt A-10o and limped in along with 2 other callers. Flop came 10-6-2 rainbow. I bet the pot, the first guy folded, and the last opponent raised me twice my bet. I thought and called. The turn was a 5, suit unimportant. I thought, and bet a little more than half the current pot. When my opponent raised quickly a second time to twice my bet, that sent the bells ringing in my head that this guy probably has me beat, probably with an overpair of some kind to my TPTK 10s. As I reviewed the betting and what I knew about this particular opponent, I had not yet seen him do anything but raise with any pocket pairs he had shown all day, and yet he had limped preflop in this hand. Moreover, his raises in this hand had been much quicker than this guy's usual MO, and that the raises were both only to twice my bet (as opposed to allin), made me smell something fishy. I couldn't put my finger on exactly what, but that's usually the feeling I get when I'm being bluffed, or at least semibluffed. After much deliberation, I called, and he flipped over A6, for just second pair and top kicker, and just like that I was back into My Rightful Position in the top 10. I was thrilled, but my elation was short-lived, as four hands later I called an allin bet on another ten-high flop with my pocket jacks, and then had a third ten suck out on me at the river and take me back down to around 30th percentile. Shortly later I took out a short stack with QQ, and had A-J hold up when the flop came KJ4 rainbow, and no one had a king, which was the last hand I played before officially making the cash at the top 162 players, with me in around 30th place at that point. I stayed in around that same position until the third break, with about 100 players remaining in the tourney.

Most of Round 4 (aka "the Push Round" in these big tournaments) is a blur to me, as the hands were coming faster and faster, and there is just SO much bullshitting that goes on. I managed to climb and then stay in the top 10 for much of the round, with me 9th out 107 remaining, then 9th out of 95 after winning about 10k in chips with a big reraise preflop with my QQ that caused the raiser and two callers to fold before seeing any of the board. I was 10th out of 84 remaining after my A9 held up to knock out a short stack who had moved in with "any ace" (A6o). I got up to 6th out of 73 remaining after being dealt AsKs twice in a row, getting bad beat on the first one for a small pot when an opponent raised big on the flop when it turned out he made trips, and then getting sucked out on AGAIN on the flop with the second AK, only to resuck on the river and win with a broadway straight that was very deserved by me. Some hands later, KK and an overly aggressive big stack preflop landed me in 5th out of 63 players remaining, and I was beginning to really think about a repeat of my final tableness from last month. But it all basically came to a crashing halt for me when, with 58 players remaining, these bastards up and move me to the table that had not one, not two, but ALL THREE of the chip leaders playing at the same time. They were staying away from each other, but just pounding on everyone else, and it was very difficult to make much headway with these three 800 pound gorillas just waitng to checkraise you and put you to a decision for all your chips. After being forced to fold a few hands I would have otherwise played, I was in 9th place out of 46 players remaining, when I was dealt 10-10. One of the crazy raisers made it 3x the BB to go, and I thought for a minute before moving allin preflop. One of the other crazyguys called, and the original bettor folded it, leaving my 10-10 up against J9o preflop. And he flopped the Jack! No further help for me, and I was out in 41st place, making about $30 for my $10 investment and about 3 1/2 hours of my time when I probably could (should) have been sleeping. But I felt great and loved the way I played.

On Sunday night, I had a very similar experience in the full tilt satellite tournament to the $200 dealers choice tourney on Tuesday. [Author's aside: This incidentially I think is going to be my new obsession, winning my way into the $200 tourney through the regular satellites until I make it one time, much as happened to me with the 180 person sng on ps.] So last night there were 56 entrants, with the top 5 finishers winning a seat into the Tuesday tournament. Without getting into too much of the details, I saw about 27% of flops, hit almost nothing on those flops, and ended up only winning two big hands in the first 90 minutes en route to being in 5th place with just 18 players remaining in the middle of Round 2. At that point I was dealt J9o, it was folded to me so I raised it 4x. One guy called, and the flop came J92 rainbow. I checked to the raiser with my top two pair, going against Doyle's advice from SuperSystem, but I knew what I was doing, and knew that this guy was going to bet even though I had him beat. So much so, that when he did bet, I just smooth called after "deliberating" for several minutes just to throw him off. The turn was a Queen, and I checked again after thinking while, which led him to move in. I quickly called, feeling CONFIDENT in what I had learned about his play in the tournament that he had no better than one pair, and he flipped...not even AJ, but KJo. Effing fish! I quickly calculated that I was about to jump in 2nd place out of 17 remaining, with remember the top 5 spots getting a seat in the $200 dealers choice tourney, but then on the river came A Fucking King, and IGHN, just like that. What a sick, sick way to end a tournament where I otherwise had played very well. And then of course the guy has to trash talk me right afterwards, like I made some kind of questionable move with my 2nd and 3rd pair on the turn, given his betting on that flop.

So, in all, I played very well this weekend, but don't have a whole lot to show for it. What else is new. Otherwise I'm just biding my time until the million dollar guaranteed tournament on party, which is now less than two weeks away.

And my Hoyas beat Pitt this weekend, which is now their second victory over a top-ten opponent this season. This is easily their best year since the Iverson days. JT III might really be the real deal after all. Who would've thought it, for anyone related to JT II?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wil and Turbo Tournaments

Big news....last night marks two consecutive blogger tourneys where I didn't embarrass myself! Hooray for me! I ended up bubbling out of the latest installment of the WWdN tournament for the second time in my history of playing with the bloggers, finishing in 12th place out of 75 entrants, with only the top 9 receiving payouts. Nonetheless, I played well just as I did earlier in the week, and got bad beat out of the tournament or I would have made the final table. In fact, why sugar coat it...I actually took ELEVEN separate bad beats during just the one tournament, and that is probably only over about 90 minutes of playing. Three times I had a pocket pair beaten by a lower pocket pair, and five other times I had at least one overcard over my opponent's cards and we were allin preflop. Rounding out the list were also three silly beats once the flop was already out, where I was a significant favorite after three cards on the board but fell victim to a suckout of some kind of another on the turn or, more commonly, on the river. My final hand consisted of me moving in with 10-10, far and away the best hand I received the entire night in the tournament over almost 200 hands, and getting called by KK. To add insult to injury, the flop brought a 10 and I immediately shot from a 20% dog to a 90% favorite with just 2 cards to come. But then cruel variance once again took a shot at me, dropping the King of clubs on the turn, and I was out of the WWdN on the bubble and in 12th place. But as I said, I am pleased to have played well in both of Wil's tournaments this week, and expect that my first final table is just around the corner.

My other poker action of last night consisted of me buying into the $5 buyin turbo tournament on pokerstars, an event which I have played one other timelast week, cashing and going out last week in 103rd place out of 1675 entrants. The thing I love about this tournament is that it is turbo, something my readers know I typically do NOT like to play, but for whatever reason, a turbo tournament can be nice once in a while if for a low buyin and just as a nice change of pace for a guy who otherwise normally plays a lot of regular-paced large tournaments. There is just something nice about starting a tournament at 10pm that you KNOW won't last past 11:45 or so, as opposed to KNOWING it will last until 3 or 4am if you do well. Anyways, after my top 10% showing last week, I entered the $5 turbo last night feeling ready to make another run, and unlike the WWdN, I was lucky and avoided most of the bad beats that had plagued me elsewhere in my play last night. After unsuccessfully lobbying V and R to join me in the $5 tourney, they both ended up railbirding me during the tournament, and provided some valuable insights on IM that helped to carry me back into cashing territory just 3 minutes into the second round (we started with over 1750 players, so the top 180 got paid). Unlike this tournament last week, though, this time I managed to execute several correct reads of others just trying to steal the blinds, and was able to grow my stack throughout the critical 30 minute period at the beginning of Round 2. I climbed from the first cashing level of 180-136 players, and to the second level of 135-100, eventually surprassing my 103rd place finish last week and making it into the elusive final 100 players. Although I remained utterly and completely card dead throughout this ENTIRE tournament and especially the final rounds, every time I got Kqo or A9o, I pushed, as you basically HAVE to do in these turbo tournaments if you expect to have any chance. Remember, after just an hour and 20 minutes of play with 5-minute rounds, you're playing at level 16, with blinds of 8000-16000 and antes of $400, so you need to take advantage every chance you get. The only problem with the turbo events is that the entire last 200 people or so just becomes one big push-fest. For the Harrington readers out there, the M's are just too low, and the blinds are just advancing too quickly, for anyone to bother playing anything with less than a pushin, unless you are one of the massive chip leaders and actually have room to spare -- but even those plays are likely to be met with at least one push-raise from an opponent, so you're basically playing move-in poker for the entire cashing period, which can be frustrating, and it not a skill which will be typically useful for the tournament poker player, other than in other 5-minute round turbo events online. Anyways, I was hitting everything with my reads last night, and managed to make the top 75, the top 50 and even the top 30, reaching a height of 4th place out of about 74 players remaining before my luck started to run out. By the time we were down to 30, I was in the bottom half of chips, and hadn't seen a playable (or even bluffable) hand in about 20 hands, and I was hamstrung and forced to call allin with A8s into a pot that had already been raised up significantly by an earlier position player. I had to hope for a low pocket pair, or perhaps KQ or something like that, but what I saw instead with AKo, and getting no help, I went out in 25th place for a cool $29 payuout on my $5 investment. It's not a lot of money overall, but it's the kind of finish that is nice to get $25 for, and one that can really build confidence in your game, after withstanding not only 1500-some players to REACH the money, but then another 150-plus players all pushing in with anything and everything. Late-stage turbo tournament play really is a game like no other in which I've been involved, and can be very rewarding when played to perfection.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pomp and Circumstance

Following up on a weekend that saw me make two final tables in sizeable multi-table tournaments and win nearly $1000 in cash and tournament tokens, Lady Poker has not been good to me these last couple of days. Regular readers of this blog will be accustomed to me listing bad beats or occasional bad luck for my poor performances, but this time something more personal to me (Pomp) is combining with some awful luck (Circumstance) to leave me in not much of a constructive poker mindset.

Beginning with the Circumstance, I have in fact been a victim of two or three *vicious* bad beats in the last couple of nights. As I've discussed before, this tends to happen to me more than your average bear, because I am so often in with the best hand, leaving myself open to get sucked on more often than most others I play with regularly. Last night, for example, I played in the party $40k guaranteed tournament in the evening, buying in for $20 and expecting to at least cash (top 220 players) if not continue my streak of at least one final table a week for the last couple of weeks. I made it all the way to the first break, when about half of the 2300 entrants in the tourney had been eliminated, and I was in the top half of the remaining players, when on the very last hand of the round (they already had the message up that the break would begin after this hand), I was dealt KK in late position. There were two callers when it got to me, and I was around the middle of the leaderboard, so I moved in, hoping someone would read me as somewhat weak and just trying to make a move heading into the break. The first caller folded to my push, but the second guy quick-called, flipping over 44. As he is typing some swear words into the chat, leaving spaces as appropriate to "trick" the oh-so-clever anti-swearing feature of the application, the flop comes with 3 rags, but then the turn brings a third 4, and before I know it, instead of vaulting into the top 100 remaining in the tournament, I am out. Those 2-outers will get you every time.

But the even more frustrating beat occurred on Tuesday evening, in the pokerstars $5 turbo tournament with 1300 players. There I was doing quite well, through round 2 and down to just 195 players remaining, still some 60 spots out of the money, with me in 84th place out of the 195 remaining entrants. At that point, I was dealt A4o suited, and was able to limp in in late position with 3 other callers. The flop came 4h4c2c. After one check, I bet out about the size of the pot, and got just one caller from the SB. The river was the 2h, giving me the nut boat and making me a hearty implied-odds favorite over anyone holding a flush draw or even a 2, who would be unlikely to put me on a 4 and could therefore easily hand over the rest of their chips to me. So, to really fuck this guy up, I checked to him as if the 2 scared me. He bet about twice the size of the pot, which by that time was getting rather large. I smooth called after thinking for some time, trying to maybe make the guy think I had a draw of some kind (straight or either of two flushes, given the board). Well, the river brings a THIRD 2, which is a great card for me because if the guy had ANYTHING to be betting before, that card has to make my opponent feel even better about whatever he's been holding and betting up to this point. I move in. He quick-calls, and flips....

The fourth 2. My nut boat busted by quads that came flop-runner-runner. That kind of thing should not happen. This guy almost had me covered, so on the next hand I didn't even care when my K-10s got busted by the big stack's J7s. That kind of thing has been a real bummer this week for me so far.

There has been another problem plaguing me at the virtual tables lately, and it has nothing to do with my cards. Essentially, I have definitely just more or less given up early in a couple of $20 sng's this week. By "given up", I mean I have moved in in the early rounds with a hand that I KNOW I am behind with by the betting up to that point, just to see if I could push the other guy off his clearly better hand.
In both of those situations, I have not been successful, and that was $40 down the drain. It is stoopid and indefensible, but I think I know what's going on. After my big wins this past weekend, and my generally good streak of cashing in these large online tournaments, I have been acting smug these past couple of days. It's like I expect people to sit down at a table with me, and immediately recognize me and starting whispering amongst themselves "There's that guy I was telling you about who made the two final tables last weekend! He's great! Better stay away from that guy whenever he's in a pot." Of course, no one who sees me on line knows that I've been on a hot streak recently, any more than they knew I was on a cold streak before that, or that I'll be on another one starting tonight for the next month or whatever. Even if they DID know it obviously still wouldn't have the kind of impact on their game that I seem to be pretending it would. Yet, I have been showing up at the table lately, acting like I don't really care about a "measily $20 buyin", even though in reality losing $20 like that, playing to just give it away as I have a couple of times already this week, is disGUSTing to me and is money that I would VERY much like to have back. All this just goes to show you -- just like the Italian Stallion Rocky Balboa, you have to keep that "eye of the tiger" at all times in order for your tournament poker game to remain sharp. From now on, I need to make a real effort to only play in tournaments that I am actually interested in finshing, and willing to play like you have to play in order to win.

Wish me luck tonight not being a pompous ass at the tables. Or, come look me up on pokerstars or party and take some of the money I've been just throwing away lately. At least someone should get to benefit from my stoopidity.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Just a Fun Night of Poker

Last night was a fun, albeit ultimately a losing, night of poker for me. Since making three final tables in the span of 11 days, my overall confidence level has skyrocketed, and that more than anything else has enabled me to be more zen about my poker play, and some of those absurd beats you run into fairly regularly on line. I think the six months of nothingness that preceded the three final tables in 11 days had really started to grate on me, far more than I had consciously realized. But for whatever reason, lately I've taken some really bad beats in tournament play online, and I've managed to remain fairly normal. To me this is doubly important because when I listed out my three poker goals for 2006, one of them was to win an MTT, which I have now done (and it's only still January!) with the partypoker satellite tournament win this past weekend, and another was to Control My Tilt. I'm not naive enough to think that my tilty frustration is gone forever, but I'm just enjoying it while is lasts, and more importantly, trying to make a habit of non-tilting (it's actually much easier than going apeshit with every bad play or bad luck) that hopefully can last through the inevitable rough streaks in my performance.

Anyways, last night started off with the latest WWdN blogger tournament on pokerstars. Although I don't even know if it's accurate to call it a blogger tournament anymore, since I don't know how many of the 125 participants actually have blogs. For the first time, I really didn't recognize most of the people in the tournament, although I have to congratulate Wil on the move from 7pm to 8:30pm -- us working stiffs can't get home AND be ready to sit down to 4 hours of poker playing by 7pm in most cases. 8:30 is a great time for everyone, and judging from the size of the tournament last night, it appears that the general public likes the new time as well.

So early on in the blogger tourney, I was simply determined not to embarrass myself, with still ZERO cashes in the maybe 5 blogger tourneys I have played in, including 2 finishes among the first five out. My first decent hand was when I was working on a flush draw and managed to get a free card after the flop. The turn did not help my hand, but when my opponent bet, he only bet 100 into a pot that was 420. Normally I am not a chaser in tournaments, as I don't think that works as a rule, but I mulled this one over for a bit. Yes I know 100 to win 420 still isn't quite the 5.3 to 1 I would need to correctly justify a call with just a flush draw after the turn(realistically I had no other outs), but I was moved by two additional items: 1. the implied odds on this play were high, in that I knew from the play that my opponent was not also on a flush draw, so I knew that IF my flush draw were to hit, I would win some solid chippage. And 2. this is pokerstars, and since I complain so much about the draws hitting more often than indicated by the actual mathematics, when given the opportunity with a close calling situation odds-wise, I tend to try to err in favor of making the call if it is a sensible play for me chipwise. Well, I called the 100 bet into the 420 pot, and o-n the river came the Queen of Hearts, completing my flush. I paused, then bet out 500, and the guy quick-called me. I never even saw what he had, but I would guess top pair or maybe 2 pairs. Either way I punished him and started off hot after making what I still think was a well-reasoned call on the turn.

Also during the first two rounds of the blogger tourney, I flopped AA twice, pulling an Ace on the flop on Both occasions. Is there any better feeling than looking down to see two Aces, and THEN seeing people raising the pot preflop in front of you? Suckers. Anyways, thanks to all this, I was in the top 10 of players remaining in this tournament from 30 minutes in to the 2 hour mark straight. I was playing great, hit some big pots where I needed to, and was between 4 and 10 for most of the first two rounds. Then, with around 15 minutes left in round 2 and 33 players remaining out of the 125 who started, I flopped a nut flush draw. The big stack at the table led at the pot, and I raised fairly large as I had the nut flush draw, second pair AND an ace in my hand. Well, this guy reraised me back HUGE, I got a bad vibe about the made hand he seemed to be holding, and I folded, which I'm sure was the correct decision. But it ended up relieving me of about 60% of my chips, which knocked me down to 25th out of 33 remaining from my previous perch in the top 10, a position I would not be seeing again in this tournament. A few hands later, I held K4s in the SB, it was folded around to me, so I raised it up, only to see the BB call with what would eventually prove to be KK. I have to say, I cannot STAND how often it happens when it's just the blinds in a hand, the SB plays it assuming the BB is not likely to hold a strong hand, and yet it turns out the BB is in dominating position. I would say it is rigged, but it's happened to often to me in live poker as well to just ignore. Anyways needless to say that K4 vs. KK hand dropped me all the way to 32nd out of 32 remaining (I hate being in the cellar!), leaving me in massive desperation-only mode. I did manage to steal the blinds on three straight hands though, and then doubled up when I predicted in the chat that I would move allin on the next hand regardless of what it was, and then picked up AKS (!!) which won against a short stack's A3. That lifted me back up to 16th out of 27 remaining, and with the top 18 spots paying, I was beginning to get optimistic again that I could cash and officially show the bloggers that I, Hammerplayer Hoyazo, know my way around a holdem table. Unfortunately, two hands later my A8s ran into the big stack's 66, and I was out of the tournament in 25th place overall. I am pleased with my performance overall, had a LOT of fun playing the tourney, but it is certainly frustrating to be in the top 10 for 2 hours and then have it all fall apart real quick like it did for me yesterday.

After this, I noticed that the $5 turbo large event on ps was about to begin its 10:39pm ET start, and that is right up my alley. I definitely intend to keep playing in large tournament between now and the party million dollar tourney im in on February 18, if nothing else just to remain sharp in big tournament play, so this one was all me. I was even happier when, on the Very First Hand, I not just doubled by TRIPLED up when my flop-the-nut-flush-plus-slowplay-the-flop-and-turn move (patent pending) enticed not just ONE allin but ANOTHER allin call as well before the betting got to me on the turn and I could call as QUICKLY as possible. Nothing like a triple up on hand #1 in a big tourney, is there? Although to my chagrin, I was in 3rd place (out of 1659 players) and not 1st after that one hand. Can there really have been TWO other people who also MORE than tripled up on the first hand? That was definitely surprising to me. About 10 minutes later, I moved back into the top ten in 4th place when I limped in with 44, got a call from the SB, flopped a 4, checked it, and enticed the SB to push in. God I am so duplicitous it is frightening to me.

Near the end of the first round (this is turbo with 5 minute levels, remember, so this was probably already into the anteing portion of the tournament), I limp with 3s in the SB, and get a weak read from the BB who checks. The flop came K42 rainbow. I check, he checks, indicating further weakness to me and that my 3s were probably good at that time. Turn is a 6, at which point I make a nice sized bet, and he raises it about 3x, putting himself allin. I felt like I had to call as I REALLY wanted to stick to my guns with my inuition about this guy's weakness, so I called it, and he flips nothing but an open end straight draw. I am thrilled until he fills the straight on the river, and I lose a large pot, putting me into almost deperation territory. I actually managed to double through QQ when I push with 94o, pulling a 7 on the river to hit an inside straight draw (take THAT!), and then double again with 33 against an A4o shortly before the first break, lifting be back as high as 50th out of 342 remaining, and at the break I was in 84th place out of 198, with 180 spots paying out. Long story short, I ended up going down about 20 minutes into Round 2, in 120th place, for an 80% profit (all of $4, but it's the PERCENT that counts, I keep telling myself), but in all I played very well and was encouraged by my performance and my reads.

This $5 tourney ended for me just in time to focus more on the final table in the blogger tourney, which I'm sure will be talked about in many circles among the blogger community. Wes AKA Boobie Lover and BrainMc went at it heads up for what HAD to be at LEAST 40 or 45 minutes, and it was one of the best heads up battles I've witnessed live or on tv. Each player was down to probably a 6 to 1 dog at least twice during the heads up portion, and Wes was at that level probably more like six times, each time coming back and fighting his way back to the lead, and there were some CRAZY cards and crazy hands created by those cards. In the end, Brain won a hard-fought and well-deserved title after getting in with Axo against Wes's K9o. A good time was had by all, and thanks again to Wil Wheaton for continuing to set these bad boys up, and to the poker gods for not once AGAIN embarrassing me with my poor play in this thing.