Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Poker and Football

Well we are more or less halfway through the NFL season now that Week 8 officially ended with the Patriots' drubbing of Minnesota on the Vikings' home turf last night, so this is usually the part of the season where I start buckling down and focusing a bit more on what really matters in football -- fantasy football, and NFL pickem. I often find that the first several weeks of the season is really about figuring shit out. Who's good this year, who's not good, who is better than expected and who is likely to finish strong. About halfway through the season, or maybe a bit before the actual midpoint, is where I usually start formulating real opinions about the teams, about who's going to go places this year and about which fantasy teams and players are in good shape for a strong second half.

But first, some real life poker content.

Check out this hand I got to experience in the 20k guaranteed tournament on full tilt last night. We're about 30 minutes in, blinds are 30-60, and I find KK in middle position. What's better, UTG limps in for 60, then a fold, and then third position makes it 180 to go, and 4th position calls the 180, all ahead of my first turn to act preflop:

Now if you know me, you know I'm going to reraise here. I can't put anyone on Aces specifically at this point, so I want to get as much money from as much people into the pot as possible right now with the second-best possible starting holdem hand. So I do a semi-slow-raise like I like to do sometimes with these kinds of hands:

The blinds fold, but the original limper and both the original raiser and the original raise-caller all call my slow-raise. Now I know I'm ahead. No self-respecting individual is going to keep from reraising allin there preflop with Aces, no matter which of the players it was in which position. So I'm ahead, but I will definitely need to be on the lookout for trips if any medium or high cards hit the flop and someone bets it crazy hard. So here comes the flop:

Bingo! The bells are going off loudly in my head. Top trips, the stone nuts on this flop, and now I'm just hoping someone maybe has pocket Aces and will pay me off. After two checks, the third player in the hand, to my immediate right, moves allin for the rest of his chips, about 45% of the pot on the flop:

Of course I call with the nuts, and then to my surprise so does the original preflop raiser two seats to my right. We flip, and check this shizz out:

Have any of you ever seen this before? I know I've seen something similar to this before in the 10 billion hands of poker I've played, but to be honest I don't think I can specifically recall ever seeing three players in the pot, all three of them hitting trips on a relatively uncoordinated flop like this. Is that crazy or what? Almost as crazy as this actually holding up for me through the turn and the river, shooting me up to 4000 chips in the first hour of the 20k last night. But before you get too excited, on the very next hand, I am dealt pocket 9s in middle position, and when UTG just limped and then the shorty to my left moved allin, and UTG just smooth-called, I went for the big move with my likely best hand and pushed it allin to get the UTG to fold since he obviously didn't exactly love his hand given his action preflop. Well, he showed this:

and more than half of my stack was gone just like that. Eventually, the Hammer Baby woke up (she is sick this week) and I lost track of both the 20k and the Hoy for a while, and never got it back in either tournament as a result. Man those girls have cost me a pretty penny over the past couple of months since we moved them in together, haven't they? And hey, I still managed to end in 4th place overall in Mondays at the Hoy -- yes, bubble boy was me last night, for the second time in the MATH tournament -- when I pushed AJ allin against a preflop raise from NewinNov when facing the Hammer Baby's third wakeup of the night already by not even midnight yet. Newin showed me the AK that explained his preflop raise ahead of my action in the hand, and IGH on the edge of the bubble. But congratulations to our final table and especially to our three cash payout winners:

So it was Newin taking down I believe his second Hoy tournament in the last few weeks, with Wannstache taking 2nd place for his first-ever Hoy cash. And third place and the $76 booby prize goes to LOK1 in what is also LOK1's second Hoy cash in a month or so. And I'd also like to welcome a few newcomers to the MATH tournament from last night -- there was wrybagel who showed off some solid poker skills in addition to a good deal of witty banter in the chat box in an impressive first foray into this event, in addition to JJLundy who I also do not recognize from previous MATH tournaments but with whom I enjoyed some good chat and fun time at the final table, albeit a short-lived time at that. As usual a good time was had by all and I look forward to seeing you all next week at Mondays at the Hoy.

OK now back to football. I guess this post has enough content that I won't do my entire NFL weekly coverage today. But I would like to post here the current standings in KJ's blogger fantasy football league, since I know so many of you are interested in knowing what's what in that league:

There it is. Despite having drafted the greatest team I have ever seen in a 12-team league by a significant margin, the fantasy football gods generally like me about as much as the poker gods, and this year has been no exception for me in the blogger league as you can see above. After my crushing this weekend to Chris's Hometown Hornets and their runningback corps of Larry Johnson and old man Fred Taylor, I sit at 4-4 and in 7th place out of 12 teams, with my total fantasy points scored coming in at 8th place out of 12. What an embarrassment. But what can I expect when my first-round pick Larry Fitzgerald has 1 touchdown and has been injured and now out for half the year after leading all wide receivers in fantasy points in 2005, my #2 pick and runningback pick Edge James has only scored a touchdown in two games this entire season, after another dominating year with 14 tds and 1800+ total yards from scrimmage in 2005, Marvin Harrison has only scored a touchdown in one game this entire season after another dominating performance and 12 tds in 2005, and an average of 12.71 tds over the past seven seasons, Joey Galloway lost his starting quarterback after week 2 following up on last year's 10-td performance, and my quarterback pick of Ben Roth has surprised everyone by being one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league, and has missed three games now due to injury. Heath Miller, my tight end? Just 12 catches and one touchdown through half the season, after last year busting out with 6 touchdowns in basically just the last 8 or 9 games of the season. So with all these effoffs, it's not hard to see why my blogger fantasy team sucks this year. I'm going to try to make a run, but my players are just not producing for me, and frankly I don't have a whole lot of optimism about the last 9 games of the season for me to come back.

That's all for today. I've got a lot more football thoughts, which I will get into later this week. For today, be sure to check out Wil's WWdN poker tournament tonight on pokerstars. "Private" tab under Tournaments, password is "monkey" as always for Wil's big weekly event, every Tuesday night at 8:30pm ET. Hopefully I'll see you there!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Poker Weekend

And what a weekend it was at the tables, both virtual and live. Starting things off, I played in a live home game at my boy drraz's place this weekend, as the man was back on the east coast for a few days since moving several months ago way out west, to a jurisdiction where among other things playing online poker was recently made explicitly illegal by power-hungry state legislators. We played two tournaments on Friday, with 7 players in each, and the players decided that 2nd place would win back his money, and everything else would go to first. In the first tournament (both were nlh, $20 buyin), I survived for a while without seeing a good starting hand the entire day of playing, but eventually I busted in 4th place when I moved allin with AJo, the literal best hand I saw all night, and got called by the sb who happened to have AK for the fifth time in that one tournament alone. Live poker is so effing rigged. In tournament #2, same setup as the first, I was a machine, starting off slow but then using a few big bluffs and one suckout of a 9 to win allin with my A9o (second best hand I saw all night) against my opponent's AJ to build a nice lead heading into the final 4 players. In the end I managed to knock out #3 and then outlast my opponent in a fairly long heads-up duel that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, winng the $120 first-prize and I think making my point to these hozers not to get mixed up with a serious internet player such as myself.

Best of all about the live tourneys this weekend, it was great to see drraz again in person -- those of you who play in Mondays at the Hoy with us will know he is an interesting person to say the least -- as well as meeting PhinCity for the first time, who always plays in MATH and has been on a very impressive tear of cashing there over the past couple of months. Dominating the field for the most part wasn't bad either, but these guys did not strike me as serious players so I can't take too much solace in that. But I will anyways.

Which reminds me, before I forget, it's that time of the week again...

That's right. Come one and come all tonight to Mondays at the Hoy, the first blogger tuneup of the week and your chance to battle it out for the $20 buyins as the cream of the bloggercrop go at it for what is always a nice-sized prize pool. The tournament has already been set up under the "Private" tournament tab on pokerstars, and the password as always is "hammer". One goal I've had that we've actually met each of the last several weeks is to get at least one first-time player to participate in Mondays at the Hoy every week, so I'd like to keep that streak going again tonight. The MATH event is always a great place to take on the bloggers for the first time, as the atmo is light, the tournament is open to anyone, and there is typically some good money at stake to whoever can prove their mettle against the best of the best. So I heartily encourage any first-timers out there to make your big stand tonight. Just log in to pokerstars and register for the event before 10:10pm ET, and you're in like Flynn.

OK so on to the rest of the weekend's poker action. So Friday night was my live poker night, and on Saturday I was too tired after driving all night on Friday to get back to the city, so I got some much-needed rest instead of firing up the virtual tables. Which left me Sunday to get my online poker fix, which I did as good of job at as I could, all things considered. First, at 9pm Sunday night Byron held his latest WPBT event, this one a 7-card stud high tournament, one of the first stud high tourneys I have ever played in. As you may recall, I was in 3rd place on Byron's WPBT Player of the Year standings heading into this tournament, with only Lucko and StB in between me and ultimate glory for 2006, and if you read this regularly then you know I've taken the POY race very seriously since I started playing in these events early on after Byron first put the WPBT poker series in place. So even though Stud High is probably my weakest game out of the HORSE variations, I joined in, intent on surviving at least to the top half to add some additional WPBT POY points, and with a specific aim as well to outlast both Lucko and StB to gain some ground on both of them heading into the late-season push on the WPBT leaderboard.

Things started off ok, although I did manage to draw at least one street too far on like 4 of the first 10 hands, leaving me a bit on the short side right from the earlygoing, and drawing some funny commentary from Heather and StB who were both seated at my starting table. Eventually I hit my first big hand here, when I raised aggressively with a 4-card flush early on, eventually buying a free card on 7th street where I made my Ace-high heart flush and ended up just barely beating out DoubleDave who had also made an AQ-high flush of his own here:

Needless to say, DoubleDave was pissed, and was even more pissed a few hands later when the luckbox eliminated him by playing the stud Hammer (722 first three cards) and eventually making two pairs on the river to take another hard-to-accept pot down from DoubleDave's perspective.

Now let me interject here with a real-time chronological hand from last night, as the 30k guaranteed tournament on full tilt began at 10pm ET, smack in the middle of the WPBT event at this point in time. We were just nearing the final table in the WPBT event, and then the 30k started, where I was overjoyed to find KK in middle position on my very first hand. Imagine my happiness when I put in a standard 5x preflop raise (bigger than my usual 3x-ish raise since there was already one EP limper into the pot):

only to see the player right after me move allin as a reraise. Making matters even funnier, a late position player then followed up by also calling the allin reraise, leaving the action to me with pocket Kings, and two allin reraises ahead of me after I had standrard-raised it up from MP. And again, all this on the very first hand of the 30k guaranteed tournament for me:

This has to be a call, right? I mean, in a large cash game against a table full of known ubertight players, I guess I could see laying pocket Kings down when I was more or less sure I was up against Aces. But as anyone who regularly plays in the large nightly guaranteed tournaments will second I'm sure, the 20k/30k guaranteed tournaments are not that. I can honestly say that I can almost not even imagine a scenario where I would lay down KK preflop in the first hour of the 20k or 30k nightly tourneys. And I didn't here either, and I was glad about my decision as soon as I saw the other players' cards:

As you can probably imagine, I was then disgusted when I saw the flop:

Yep. My "magnets" lived up to their name, attracting an Ace on the flop for what seems like the umpteenth time I've held pocket Kings, and IGH. On the very first hand. With pocket Kings. As a big-time favorite against two opponents who were basically drawing to five outs between them in the entire deck. 1476th place out of 1488 players. Did I mention I went out with pocket Kings? On the first hand? Fuck was that ever annoying, but par for the course with my holdem tournament luck of late.

Thankfully, I have games like razz, hilo and stud to keep me occupied while the poker gods are so definitively not smiling on me these days in holdem tournaments. And that's why I sit and play in things like these WPBT events, including the Stud tournament that went on the entire 30 seconds that I was enrolled in the 30k. When the tournament was down to 10 players remaining (final table would be the last 8 players in this event since this was a stud tournament), I took a screenshot of the leaderboard because I was in 3rd place -- a good thing no doubt -- and yet I was trailing only Lucko and StB, the very two people I was trying to catch and surpass the performance of in this event:

But those guys come to play every week in these WPBT events, and I like that about them, so I didn't mind them making it difficult for me to make up any points on them during the Stud tournament. A few hands later, we did reach the final table after Wes bubbled out in 9th when his high pair early failed to develop into anything more, and here was the final table makeup, a veritable who's-who of bloggers who play the game of poker well:

So the final table of the WPBT Stud event consisted of myself, Lucko, StB, Heather, our esteemed host Byron, CJ, Tony Soprano and Mattazuma, which again included here at the final table 4 of the top 6 runners in the current WPBT Player of the Year race, a fact which was really exciting given how much could be riding on this one game. Mattazuma was bounced on the very first hand of the final table, by Lucko's pocket Kings, and StB went on to suck out two pairs against Byron's higher pocket pair to knock our host out in 7th place. I eliminated my POY nemesis StB from the event just a few hands later as well, when my trips managed to beat out his two pairs through 5th street, and suddenly we were down to 6.

And that was when I took on the Luckbox. When I managed to pair my door card on 5th street, just one card before I made a King-high diamond flush on 6th street, I knew I was in good position to take CJ down because my paired door card would look so much like trips and would throw off the scent from my actual made flush. In the end, CJ was also sporting a well-hidden hand by 6th street, but unfortunately for him, his made hand was a straight, while mine was a flush, and lucky for me there wasn't a single card in the deck that CJ could have hit to suck out on me, or lord knows he would have:

And then there were four. Shortly before this time, Lucko, who once again had amassed a large stack, started doing his bully thing and literally raising or reraising Every. Single. Hand. once the action got to him. Every time, without hesitation or thought involved. Lucko has demonstrated time and time again how craftily he knows how to manage a big stack, and this time was no different as Lucko managed to push people off of tons of pots here at the final table, with what I can only assume was less than strong cards in many instances. But when he's been raising on every single street through 5th, and then on 6th street his doorcard pairs and he bets again, you have to fold it to his aggression unless you've already made trips or better. Similarly, when Lucko has bet strong throughout the hand, and then he makes an open pair on 5th or 6th, your pocket Queens suddenly don't look so playable anymore. And so this strategy worked well for Lucko at the final table, at least for a while. Unfortunately for him, however, Heather eventually started catching some big cards of her own, and Lucko went stone dead in the cards he received, and before I knew it, Lucko was out, failing to improve his 2 pair to be able to beat Heather's made straight on the river, and Lucko was out in 4th place. Another tremendous showing from the man -- and hey at least this time he didn't openly collude with other players at the table ;) -- but more importantly, I had outlasted both StB and Lucko, and would therefore gain some ground on both of them in the latest WPBT POY standings.

I was so happy to have reached my unofficial goal for the WPBT Stud tournament that I fairly quickly next pushed too hard on a short stack with a pocket pair that never improved, and Heather was all too happy to double up at my expense, knocking me out in 3rd place myself. But third place got me the $60 last cash payout spot, as well as a better finish than StB and Lucko, so I'm very pleased with that result. But I have to admit, as I watched Tony Soprano proceed to dismantle Heather and her over 5-to-1 chip lead to start heads-up play on Tony's way to taking down the WPBT Stud title, I couldn't help but think about what could have been, and how I could have been the one overcoming the big chip deficit to steal another WPBT title. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed myself once again in this tournament, and I cannot stress enough how much I love having a blogger tournament series that is nowhere near being all holdem all the time.

If I can complain for just a minute, I look at the WPBT POY standings this morning, and it looks to me like I actually somehow lost ground against both Lucko and StB, even though I outlasted both of them in the tournament last night, so I don't know what happened there. I guess still being in 3rd place overall will have to suffice for me -- I think we already covered this this past summer, but I don't know or really understand in the least the script Byron uses to compute these WPBT point totals. In fact, I don't even really know what a "script" is -- and I don't want to konw, either btw -- but let's just say that I don't think I would be scoring these events in exactly the same way that Byron does. But, I love what Byron has done with the WPBT poker events overall, and I certainly defend his right to score these things however he sees fit. I just don't remember being more than 300 points behind second-place Lucko before this event, so I can't believe I'm still that far away from him now, and the same is true for StB in relation to me on the POY leaderboard. Nonetheless, since this was a fairly small tournament (15 players total), I suppose that has something to do with why I don't seem to have gained at all against Lucko or StB in the standings. I don't know. It's frustrating not knowing the scoring system for the WPBT, but at the same time it helps me focus on the only thing I can control -- doing as well as possible in the events themselves. Which I plan to continue to do two weeks from now, when the next WPBT event goes down, and that one is in Stud Hi-Lo, one of my favorite games and one that I feel I am very proficient in. In fact I'm already looking forward to taking that badboy down and actually gaining some ground on the top two in the WPBT standings.

In any event, this weekend overall was fairly full of poker, and also of poker successes. I made some more money in hilo, razz and even low-limit NLH cash games over the weekend as well in short stints of availability for me, and, when combined with my final table in the turbo mtt on pokerstars from last Thursday, I go into the new week with a nice sense of optimism and of control over my own poker fate. Which will be the perfect backdrop for me to get sucked out on in the first hand tonight in the MATH tournament.

See you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy!!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Quickie Friday Post

Well, I only have a minute as I'm off to meet up with drraz as he's back on the east coast for the weekend, and today will hopefully include some live poker action at the Taj Mahal casino in AC as well. Real quick, last night started off frustrating, as xkm busted my KK with his AK just a few hands into the WWdN Not last night (and congratulations to Joanne for taking the event down in the end, again complying with my request and eliminating xkm from the final table). The frustration continued for me as I lost this hand allin preflop in Al's Riverchasers private tournament:

and then this hand in the 20k (also allin preflop with me dominating) within minutes of each other:

In both the 20k and Riverchasers, I was unable to regain my traction from multiple beats like these that I took early, and I ended up busting late in the 2nd hour of both events. Meanwhile, I also joined my old favorite, the $5 turbo mtt on pokerstars at 10:39pm ET, and started off with similar results, losing this allin preflop to an absolute pushmonkey holding a horrible hand but just too dumb to let it go:

Here's another clown nearing the end of the first hour of that turbo mtt who again just does not know when to fold a phucking shitty hand, and then gets lucked into surviving with it:

Despite all the shit, however, I managed to double up with a few key strong hands near the end of the turbo mtt, and I ended up making my first final table in this event before all was said and done:

In the end, my Q9o ran into ATo, and IGH in 7th place overall out of 1344 entrants in the turbo mtt:

Hopefully this will serve as a nice foreshadowing of some success tonight with drraz and phincity, whether it be a home game or the Taj in Atlantic City. Have a great weekend everyone and I look forward to posting all about another live poker victory on Monday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tournaments Bad....Cash Games Good!

Sound like a common theme here lately? That's because it is. My no-limit holdem tournament performance has left much to be desired over the past several weeks, despite a few fairly deep runs in the nightly 20k guaranteed tournament. I think I'm playing more or less fine, downright good even these past several days as compared to the few weeks before that when I might have been pressing a bit much when my stack is just at the beginnings of short. But I have seen some crazy, crazy things and suffered a number of highly unlikely beats in online poker tournaments of late, most of which I have detailed right here at the blog for you all to see.

This trend continued last night, as I played the 20k as well as the Mookie on full tilt. Another nice big crowd for the Mookie tournament, 61 players as I recall, so a tourney that size really tends to bring out the who's who of the poker blogging community, which is always a fun thing for a guy like me. As is when I see this massive three-way allin within the first 15 minutes at my 20k table:

Thankfully I was not part of this preflop pushfest, because if you read the blog then you know I would not have won with this hand:

It really is unreal the frequency with which other players tend to win with pocket Bitches, as compared to the infrequency of my own wins with the Whores. I phucking hate Queens, I really do. I hate getting them myself, I hate seeing other people play them, and I certainly hate getting allin against them when I am ahead, because we all know how that always turns out for me. Anyways, it's not every day that you see three preflop allins on the same hand, with what turns out to be the three best possible starting hands in holdem, so I thought that was interesting.

Fast forward about an hour, I've survived through the first half of the Mookie's 61-person field, and then I am dealt my nemesis -- pocket Queens. I'm in middle position, and Squib and IronGirl each limp into the pot for the 120-chip big blind. I put in a standard 3x raise to 360 with the Hand of Evil. Joe Speaker surprises me by flat-calling my 3x raise from the cutoff after the two early limpers. All hell then proceeds to break lose when Squib pushes allin on a reraise, and by the time the action gets back around to Speaker again, here's what it looks like:

with me, of course, making the oh-so-questionable decision of calling a raise-caller and two allins with pocket Queens. I pretty much knew I was unlikely to be good here, but at some point with all the smack I've been talking about the biatchwhores lately, the screenshot almost becomes worth more than the measly $10 buyin to the tournament, so I had to go for it. Then Speaker went and called the three allins as well, and the hands were flipped:

Bam! Aces, Kings, Queens and Tens all out in the same hand at the same time, each allin heading for the flop. And, you have to figure, since the Queens won earlier today at my 20k table by spiking trips against Kings and Aces, that's what would happen here for me as well, right? Nope:

Interestingly, notice the runner-runner Jacks to complete the board after the flop, making this the first time that I can ever recall in a holdem game where I was looking at a pair of Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks and Tens all at the same time in the same hand. And the fact that Squib's Aces managed to hold on at all in this hand is pretty amazing enough if you ask me. Naturally the bitchtresses did me in again and a few hands later I was out of the Mookie, in 25th out of 61 places:

So, yet another night of frustrating beats in no-limit holdem tournaments. What can I do. I admit it -- I knew it then in fact -- that calling the raise-caller and then the two allins with pocket Queens was a bad move. I knew at least one of those bettors had KK, AA or at least AK, but like I said I went ahead and did it anyways, more for posterity's sake in the blog than anything else. That was a bad call by me and I paid for it. Nonetheless, you gotta admit, seeing pocket Aces vs. pocket Kings vs. pocket Queens vs. pocket Tens in the same hand is quite a rarity. And seeing me lose yet another big pot with pocket Queens is quite the -- what is the opposite of rarity anyways? Commonality? Typicality? Dammit where is Iak when I need him? Let's just say me losing with pocket Queens is quite the typical bullshit and leave it at that. Fuck you Queens!!!

On a happier note, Hammer Wife and I got up early today when both of the Hammer Girls woke up around 5am. Hammer Wife decided in about 10 seconds that this was too early for either of them to be awake if they are expected to behave anything but awfully during the day today, so I talked M back down to sleep while Hammer Wife rocked K in the glider. Once both kids were back asleep, my wife crawled into bed as well, leaving me kinda wide awake with maybe an hour or so to kill before work, so...and 2 hours later, I'm up another $120+ at 2-4 razz. 2-4 was the highest razz game going at 5am east coast time this morning on full tilt, and at that it was only a 3- or 4-handed game for most of the time between 5 and 6am. By the time I was outta there around 7am today, the table was already full and there was at least one person waiting on the waitlist. So it's nice to see that there is more and more action on full tilt at times and at limits that there did not used to be before the demise of partypoker in the U.S., and it's even nicer to see my bankroll climbing for the 5th night out of the last 6, due mainly to cash games, be it razz, pot-limit Omaha, or stud hilo. Even despite the redickulous things I've been running into at the nlh tournament tables recently, I still look forward to that damned 20k whenever I can play it at night. As Iak recently said in a post, the 20k is like "that girlfriend I just can’t get ovah, I know". So true, Iak, so true.

OK before I go, I wanted to link over to three really great poker blog posts I've read over the past few days. One comes from our boy Iakaris himself, and the particular post I loved was a story about his trials and tribulations in the 20k from a few nights ago, and could be aptly subtitled "My Night as a Donkey"....read the post here.

Second is another knockout post from Joe Speaker's blog, this one masterfully weaving some personal history of a significant relationship in Joe's life together with one of the most poignant and unforgettable baseball memories of my own life, and those of many other sports fans out there. As usual, Speaker's post is a must read, so please go check it out here.

Last but certainly not least (except maybe in terms of height) is Iggy. The blogfather is back this week with an uberpost to end all uberposts, and whether you're looking for information on the ramifications of the recently-passed anti-gaming legislation in the U.S., material on the future of gaming, or the undoubtedly greatest-ever Tuff_Fish video, Iggy's latest post has it all. So go jump on over to the blog that started it all and get your daily dose of uber, dwarf style.

That's all for me today. I plan to check out the WWdN Not tonight on pokerstars at 10:30pm ET (password is "monkey" as always), but I won't know for sure if I can play that until the last minute and I can tell what's up with the Hammer Girls for the night. And at some point I'm going to have to admit that I am flat out costing myself money every time I don't have at least a couple of razz tables open, so I may have to hit some of those too tonight to make up for lost time last night. Come find me if you're looking to make some serious coin at razz tonight!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The 20k is OK (Take III), and Big Cash Game Win

Don't ask me why I'm fool enough to actually say this in a blog post, but dare I proclaim that my month-long drought at the nightly full tilt 20k guaranteed tournament is over, at least for the time being? I must be crazy to publicly proclaim this here, let alone right at the beginning of my post and to put it in the title and everything. Everyone knows the poker gods have no chance of missing it now. And we all know what they're going to do to my 20k game when they see me saying the drought is over. Nonetheless, I'm not actually doing that well in the 20k. This isn't like Iak or Smokkee or Lifesagrind who have made really deep runs of late into this event, and I did not even cash last night when all was said and done. But, after over a month of not even lasting through the first hour in probably 12-15 tries in this tournament, counting last night I have now lasted into the third hour in this event three straight days, including a 42nd place out of 1545 players in this past Sunday night's 30k guaranteed. So I'm hoping maybe it's ok for me to post a little about that here, since I'm not actually doing well in this thing, but rather I'm just not doing horribly anymore like I have been. We'll see if this was a mistake or not soon enough I suppose.

I missed last night's WWdN because I ended up going to see one of my absolute favorite authors of all time, Stephen King, speaking live about his new book and answering audience questions here in the city. I reteurned home shortly before 10pm, the sitter had already put both girls to bed and all seemed calm and quiet. So I sat down to the pc, and mapped out my evening, beginning by activating the girly chat and seeing what mtt's were on the schedule on pokerstars and full tilt, my two virtual card rooms of choice these days. After surveying the schedule and chatting with some playas, I settled on a simple poker plan for the evening: (1) the 20k at 10pm ET, (2) $26 token buyin HORSE mtt on full tilt at 10:15pm, and (3) the $5 turbo nlh mtt on pokerstars at 10:39pm. I wanted to play some cash to continue grinding out my bonus dollars on full tilt, but jeciimd talked me into the HORSE mtt (that took a lot of arm twisting!) and cash would have to wait for me to bust out of at least one of these things.

I made my first move in the 20k, when about 40 minutes in, I was faced with this allin flop push by a guy on a shortish stack who had just taken a bad bad beat at the river on the hand immediately before this one:

This guy hadn't played a big hand yet in the entire tournament in more than 40 minutes, and on his first try I watched him get rivered hard. So I had him on a bit steaming just then, and when he pushed here, you've seen me post about this kind of call many times here actually from early in the big mtt's. Guys get a little short, and they start acting desperate and pushing on flops with nothing but two high cards that did not connect. I thought it over, reran his preflop actions (calling my 4x preflop raise) and his postflop actions and what I'd watched him do at this table for the past half hour or so, and decided to make the call:

Yes! The donks in the first hour of the 20k are really funny sometimes. You just have to get your mind in tune with their donkey brains, and you can lay some good reads and set some fun traps and just watch the zombies walk right into them.

By the time of my first double up here in the 20k, the HORSE mtt was already in full swing, with 196 players fighting it out for a $4700 prize pool being paid to the top 24 finishers. As is much more common in HORSE tourneys than in the large nlh mtt's of late, I got off to a great start early with a big limit holdem win and a few large razz hands. I hit another two nice hands in stud hilo, the poker game I've been playing longer than almost any other, and I was quickly in the top 20 in the tournament. Then when we got back to LHE for the second time, I got involved in a hand that, without going through all the details, let's just say involved me and another guy basically max-raising it out from the flop on. Rather than show you 20 screenshots of this happening, let me just skip to the end:

Ouch! Not only did I flop a flush, but I flopped a flush after I open-raised from middle-late position with 87s, a hand my opponent could not possibly put me in given my preflop raise. And my opponent happened to also flop a flush, a higher flush using both of his hole cards, at the same time. Now if that isn't bad luck then I don't really know what is. I got slammed for a huge pot on this one, and I was once again lamenting my luck of late in multi-table tournaments of all flavors.

But that wasn't even the worst of it for me in the HORSE mtt. I managed to build my HORSE stack back up by early in the second hour to a respectable level by playing solid poker, again excelling for the most part in the non-holdem games where the competition is simply noticeably worse than it is in the holdem hands. Then in O8, I flopped trips, bet and got called, and then made my boat on the turn here:

Of course we max-raised our way through the turn card here and on to the river, when I confidently flipped my boat, and he showed me this:

Phuck!!! Seriously. That was two utterly crushing beats where I came up with an absolutely huge, unreadably huge, hand right in the middle of a hand, and then in both cases it turns out I had already been behind to an even huger hand that was even more unreadable than mine. So that's how I went out of the HORSE mtt, but that is nothing I can feel even the least bit bad about. I played great and I probably would have won the phucking thing if not for those two silly, silly losses. It happens, it's poker, right?

But does this have to happen too? This hand occurred not two minutes after my second HORSE phucking above, when I was doing great in the $5 turbo mtt on pokerstars, having lasted through the first hour of what is one of the toughest mtt's around to endure in:

When I push-raised this clown on the river here, I was laughing inside. I mean I had a really good chuckle going. I had watched this guy luckbox into two separate hands on the turn and river over the past 30 minutes or so, and by all rights he should have been outta here several blind rounds ago. But instead, I was thinking when he foolishly called my allin here, instead the poker gods had obviously decided that, while they had effed me hard in the 20k, they were going to pay it back here in this turbo mtt. Wrong! Now be honest guys, is that a sick way to get knocked out of two tournaments where I had been doing well over the span of maybe 2 or 3 minutes? At least I did manage to survive until the cash in the turbo mtt, just barely:

Hey, I'll take my $7 payout and go home, thank you very little.

My next elimination, then, was the 20k. As I mentioned above, again I managed to last into the third hour of this tournament, a fact which for now will have to suffice as a thrill for me given my recent performance in the 20k before this week. Early in the third hour, with about half the average chip stack remaining in the event, I was faced with this preflop raise from a guy I had personally observed stealing the blinds twice from late position over the past several rounds:

As you can see, I elected to reraise him allin, as he put in a very stealy-looking 3x raise from a very stealy-looking position, and yet his stack was such that it would make a lot of sense for him to fold to me here unless he happens to be holding a strong hand this time. With the ability to add literally 50% to my existing stack where I had reason to believe this guy was weak enough to not be willing to call my allin raise here, I like my push, and I can definitely say that this is the kind of aggressive middle-to-late stage tournament play that has won me lots of money and done me very well over time in mtt's. Knowing that this guy is a stealer, I was surprised when he flipped over a strong hand, and proceeded to nail the board and eliminate me from the tournament:

But as I said, I like my play here. It is uber-aggro, no doubt, and not at all necessary for this point in the tournament. But as you all know, I play to win, not to cash, and this is a great example of a high-percentage play with two suited two-gapper cards that I make with some regularity around this point of the big mtt's, what I like to call "Go Time". With everyone else hunkering down in preparation for the tight hang-on until the money (at this time just 45 or so spots away out of 1447 entrants), if I am on a well below-average stack I will often make moves just like this, and if done correctly in the right spots, they work far more often than they don't. Last night just wasn't one of those times. But again I am really pleased to report lasting to the third hour in three straight 20k's. A feat I can hopefully extend further tonight.

With all of my mtt's done for the night, I got ready for bed, but as I pulled up the covers, something was nagging at me at the back of my head. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it was definitely something there. I felt compelled to sit back down at the computer for a few, and I watched as my fingers logged me back in to full tilt. Although I did not have control over my body's actions at the time, it suddenly occurred to me what that nagging feeling was....8-16 limit razz. If you recall, over the weekend Joanne convinced me to play a short while of 8-16 razz at a table that she insisted was donkish, and although I had been up around $75 shortly after sitting down with her, I left within half an hour or so, down about that same number overall on the session. Nonetheless, it was clear to me all of a sudden as I stared at the full tilt lobby that had just popped back up last night that I had never really stopped thinking about playing that 8-16 razz game from this weekend, and how I was going to have to try it again. Then I looked at the screen and I had already sat down at the 8-16 table. My brain just took a few extra seconds to figure out that this is what I was meant to be doing at the end of last night. Wind down after three tumultuous mtt's, grind out some bonus, play the highest limit game I've ever played at any time in my entire life, what else is new, yknow? And hey, I threw in one table of 3-6 razz and one table of 2-4 razz to go along with the big one, so I guess maybe I was hoping they would all average out to around the stakes I am used to playing. Or something like that.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the largest single pot I have ever won in any cash poker game:

It all started off when I called the completed bet on the 8-16 table from EP with a 7-high starting razz hand, a move I will make probably 95% of the time with a 7-low to begin with:

With two other door cards lower than mine, I knew I was going to need to catch good here early or I'd have to get out of the way. And catch good I did, hitting a 4 on the next card to retain my 7-low, now through four cards. Unfortunately, both of my opponents had also caught low (lower in fact), so in the end I somewhat unhappily made another $8 call but now knowing I would need to catch low and catch better than both of my opponents on 5th street, or again I would have to bolt before the $16 bets kick in:

It happened! And of course I bet out, now guaranteed to be ahead at this point in the hand:

Knowing I was currently ahead, I was happy to see the first player call my $16, and even more happy when the second player raised me to $32:

Obviously, he knew he was on a better 4-card draw than I was and was going for the value-raise. Well, I do this move all the time, so I know how best to combat these "value raise" type of moves in razz when I know for a fact that the value raiser is currently taking the worst of it, as here. I reraise, which now forces the value raiser with just a good draw to pay heavily to draw when behind. I love the move, and I loved doing it here:

Both players called the $48 bet, and I looked to 6th street with trepidation, hoping against hope for a low card and two high cards for my opponents. Instead I got this:

Eech. A pair card for me, and low cards for each of my opponents. Dammit.

But then I looked a bit closer. I am now showing a 4-card low to a 7, still a strong razz hand in most situations. Each of my opponents has at least one brick that I can see, and who knows what lies underneath their hole cards. With my re-reraise last hand, these guys have to fear that this 2 has just made me even better than the 7-low my upcards suggest, and they are all but assured now that I have a made 7 low. Although from their board cards both opponents could now be working on made 6-lows, and were almost surely drawing to 6-lows, I had a good hand showing and wanted to act like I had just nailed it with that 2 coming on 6th street. So I did what I had to do and I bet it out as you can see above. Both players called. But neither raised, which told me all that I needed to know -- both were still drawing to beat my clear 7-4 low. If either of them had been ahead at that point, they would have been crazy not to raise me there, and nothing would be gained by them waiting until 7th street to let the cat out of the bag -- all they would gain was some lost bets from letting me out of 6th street for just one bet.

So we moved on to 7th street, with me praying for one more low card to hit me so that I could be very confident of winning this hand for a huge pot. I did not get what I wanted:

Fucking trips! Assholes. Nonetheless, I know both of these guys are drawing to beat me, so I had to bet the river as you see above, no thought involved. Just the first player called:

And he mucked, me dragging the $283 pot for my biggest ever single hand cash poker win. What a thrill. Btw, he was holding a 7-6-5 low, and could not make the tough laydown for all those chips even though my board was showing 4 cards to a 7-4 low. His poor read was my gain, and suddenly I had made more money from my $250 buyin at this table than I had made in the past week of grinding out the lower limit cash games up to that point.

I followed this up two hands later by winning this hand, where my opponent (whose name and avatar on full tilt remind me annoyingly much of Iakaris FWIW), and who made a horrifically poor call on 6th street that I still simply cannot understand:

But I'll sure take the $125 from him, if he wants to lose that money so badly. In the end, I took a lot of people's money at this table, buying in for $250 and leaving right after this, as you can see with me more than doubling my stack before getting out of dodge a big winner:

These late-night profits combined with another $125 or so won on the other two razz tables to make last night one of my most profitable of the past several weeks. If I can't win big in a nlh tournament and keep running my monsters into even bigger monsters of my opponents in other single-elimination events, at least I can make a killing at the cash limit tables and end my night on a very positive note, after again playing the highest stakes of my lifetime in the wee hours of the morning.

I definitely plan to be in the Mookie tonight, and so should you. Full tilt, private tab, 10pm ET, password is "vegas1" as always. This will probably prove to be the biggest blogger tournament of the week for the second straight week, so be there or be square. Come find my table so you can call my allin preflop reraise with your QJo and then spike a card at the river to beat my pocket 10s. Or better yet, just play any two cards in the hand where I get dealt pocket Aces. Tournaments have just not been my friend lately, but I love the atmo at an event like the Mookie and I will definitely plan to be there to get down.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tsk Tsk You Bloggers

A lot of discussion has been had over the past couple of days regarding possible collusion in the Big Game that occurred for the first time this past Sunday, and I have to say I was shocked when I first saw this discussion, and I still can't really believe it blew up into the Whole Big Thing that it did. For those of you who are not aware, at the final table of the event on Sunday, Lucko, the eventual winner of the tournament, was thought by several bloggers to be "playing soft" against Blinders when Lucko failed to use his huge stack to push Blinders and his microstack out of the event when we were down to the cash bubble with exactly 6 people left in the event. This feeling was exacerbated when, a few hands later, Lucko did call an allin from Katitude in a similar situation, potentially sending Kat home on the bubble as a result, and allowing Blinders to sneak into the money positions despite not playing a hand until his last hand at the final table.

Let me begin by saying that true collusion in poker tournaments is disgusting, and is something which I would be livid about if it actually happened and I knew about it. This would be true for any poker tournament in which I was involved, live or online, and especially in a blogger event where I have come to expect more from the people that we all know and like (mostly) and play with regularly every week. So, if I thought it were true that Lucko was taking it easy on Blinders for some reason, in favor of busting out a different player instead, I would be very disappointed and angry, and this post would say something very different than it will today. So it's not that I think it is Lucko's right or something to collude to eliminate specific players from any poker tournament. As far as I'm concerned, it's not really right for a chip leader to do that, and I would fight against it to whatever extent I could.

My issue with this whole brouhaha that has come up with Lucko's play here is that I think it is very clear that no collusion of any kind had happened, and frankly I don't see what all the hubbub was originally that led to this allegation to begin with. Lucko has made his point in several blog comments over the past couple of days, essentially that he was going out of his way to keep Blinders in the tournament, so as to keep the bubble going, so that Lucko could continue to use his huge chip stack and beat the crap out of the rest of the field in the tournament as a result. This is a sound strategy and it's not like Lucko made it up himself or like he's the only one who knows it and follows it (although most bloggers do not go this route in our blogger tournaments). Some other commenters are 100% correct that even David Sklansky makes this suggestion in the strategy espoused in his well-known and well-respected poker books.

The thinking is simple. The bubble creates an artificial situation in any poker tournament, where the small stacks are likely to play ubertight as they attempt to hold on to sneak into the money, and the medium stacks as well are often not interested in making any huge moves with just one more elimination before making the cash. This artificial situation is often a very beneficial one to the biggest stacks, and the more prohibitively huge the biggest stack is, it follows that the more he or she is likely to benefit from an artificial situation that discourages other players from getting in the big stack's way.

If you played in or watched the end of the Big Game on Sunday, you saw Lucko kicking everyone's ass at the final table. Hardcore. He was betting and raising almost with abandon when bubble time arrived, and almost every time the other players folded to his aggression. Lucko turned a huge stack into a ridiculously huge stack by taking major advantage of the bubble play, and it obviously helped his case to extend this artificial bubble situation as much as he could. Let's put aside the fact that I've never known Blinders or Lucko to even know each other, mention each other, even comment on each other's blogs. I am quite sure that it was in Lucko's best strategic interests to extend the bubble as long as possible, and that's all he did here.

Ironically, Lucko said in a comment to either Iak's or Waffles' blog that the only reason he called Kat's allin bet in a similar situation a few minutes later was that he felt peer-pressured into it by all the complaining surrounding his failure to push Blinders off the bubble a few hands earlier. Lucko would have preferred to keep Kat in the game at that point as well, but all the people crying foul -- I can't help but notice they are mostly people who are close with Kat (as am I, by the way) -- are eventually the very thing that caused Lucko to call with a shot to eliminate Kat from the tournament. That's funny to me. People need to relax about these sorts of things, and certainly give some more thought before crying foul or claiming any ulterior motives.

For my two cents (especially in freaking blogger tournaments people!) people ought not to be accusing others of "cheating" or "soft-playing friends", etc. when the very actions that are being questioned also happen to be in-line with smart, profitable strategy for the situation that the accused is in at the time. If people don't even know enough to recognize basic big-stack bubble strategy, then I think a guy like Lucko has earned the right to not be accused by anyone until those people go and do their homework to ascertain whether the approach he was following could actually be him trying his best to win, rather than to help a friend or hurt another player. Hopefully everyone involved has taken the opportunity to apologize to Lucko, who I also point out has proven time and time again his very solid poker tournament skills. The guy is right up at the top of the WPBT leaderboard after several events spanning several different poker games, and he's never been involved in any suggestions of even the slightest form of impropriety in any of these events.

Lucko, I for one congratulate you on a job very well done. And hey, if you managed to educate a bunch of other less successful poker bloggers on one way to really bully the table with a big stack, then more power to everyone. Hopefully some people will learn a lesson here and at least think a bit more before jumping to conclusions which are hurtful, insulting or, as in this case, just plain way off base.

[end rant]. I am hoping to play in the WWdN tournament tonight, but as with the past couple of weeks, I won't really know until a few minutes before the scheduled start time and until I see how the Hammer Girls seem to be feeling about their regularly scheduled bedtime tonight. See you then! And Wil, you better not be soft-playing me!

Monday, October 23, 2006

OK in the 30k (Redux), and a PLO Final Table

Even though this is not in the title above, I'm sure many of you are wondering what ever came of my performance in Miami Don's inaugural Blogger Big Game last night on full tilt. Well, as I mentioned previously I won my Tier 2 token into this event on my third try, after winning about $60 in bubble money as well through my first two token sng attempts, so I was in there for free essentially, and I started off playing great. I made some great reads of a few of the players at my table, and managed to run a nice bluff on xkm and another on DefendTheBlinds, getting my stack up near 4000 early from its 3000 starting size. Then, just about 20 minutes into the event, I look down to find pocket Aces, my nemesis of late, on the button, and to make things better, DefendTheBlinds has already raised this one up 4x in front of me from middle position. I don't recognize DefendTheBlinds' name, so I don't mind doing my patented and often-posted slow-raise here, knowing I'm getting it allin and knowing I'm going to crush this guy:

Fast forward about 60 seconds, and here we are:

That's right. I can't win a phucking thing with Queens, not to save my effing life, and yet my Aces get cracked by other people's Queens like it's their job. Disgusting. Never fear, I got my chance about 10 minutes later to avenge my troubles with the Biatches, when I reraised xkm allin with pocket Queens of my own -- and a newly-small stack, thanks to my acecrackage above -- and then he flipped over these badboys:

and IGH in 34th place out of 38 entrants. And the problems continue for my nlh tournament game....

Or do they?

As you may recall, last Friday I posted about running fairly deep into the 20k the last time I was able to play it, busting just short of the money but making my deepest push into this event in more than a month. I played very solid poker in that event, waiting for my spots, and only went out when I pushed from steal position with AJ against a few limpers preflop, only to be called by AK out of the blinds and not catch a miracle for my dominated hand. I went into last night's 30k guranteed (the nightly 20k tournament on full tilt guarantees 30k on Sunday evenings) with this same mindset in my head -- to wait for my spots and not be crazy early in the tournament, and play good, solid, moderatedly aggressive poker. And that's just what I did. In fact, to help keep boredom from setting in, I also fired up my second-ever pot-limit omaha tournament as well on full tilt, this one with deep stacks as well. Having cashed in my only other PLO tournament a couple of weeks ago, and playing a lot of cash plo on full tilt recently as I work through that big reload bonus they owe me, I can honestly say that plo has quickly become my favorite poker game to play online. I imagine that if I can string together some consistently good finishes, nlh tournaments might come back to the forefront for me, but these days, I've been busting it at Razz and PLO at the virtual cash tables and making some decent scratch in so doing, so I looked forward to final-tabling both of these mtt's on the night.

I reached half of that goal, and at least I made my point loud and clear in the other. In the PLO tournament, I followed my usual strategy for early in mtts where I made a lot of cheap preflop calls with most of my double-suited starting hands, and most situations where I held any suited Ace. Not for two raises preflop, but for just a call of the BB, I find it to be highly profitable to play many of these nuts-catching hands early if I can get in there cheap, and have a chance to bilk someone out of their entire stack early on in these big tournaments.

I first got allin in the PLO tournament on this hand, where I held a pair of Aces, one of them suited, and thus I knew I was the mathematical favorite over any other hand that an opponent could show me preflop, so I happily called my way allin:

and my preflop favorite actually held up, against a guy playing two Kings, and a shorty sitting on just two pairs of double-suited middling cards:

Meanwhile, I had nothing doing in the 30k, as I raised and called a little bit in appropriate situations preflop, but failed to hit anything I could stay in with once the flops came out. I did make this big allin bluff-raise early on when I was sure my opponent was just making a weak lead with nothing but a big stack to back it up, and I correctly assumed that I still had enough in my 1080-chip stack to make this guy not want to call just for pot odds purposes.

And then, the usual. The Hammer Baby cried for the tenth time in the night, only this time it stuck, and she quickly woke up the older Hammer Girl as well, and within seconds both of them were screaming in their room. Since the Hammer Wife had already done most of the rockage earlier in the evening so that I could pay $75 for the privilege of having my junk booted 20 minutes into the Big Game, the late night was mine, and that means I got up, talked my older daughter back to sleep, and then proceeded to rock the baby in our glider out in the living room.

For ninety minutes. All while the 30k and my PLO mtt blazed on. But it wasn't all that bad. I went in and logged out on my bedroom PC, and fired up the old 1999 486 megahertz Dell laptop in the living room, situated it next to the rocker, and went on to play somewhat uncomfortable, not always welcomed by the baby, poker on that pc. I wasn't able to focus anywhere near as much as I would have liked (nor to take any screenshots, fortunately for you all!), but I was able to play to survive in both tournaments while I was out there doing my fatherly duties. Thus, when the Hammer Baby finally went down at around 12:30am ET, I was able to return to my normal poker computer and I had just about the same number of chips in each tournament as I had had an hour and a half earlier when I had left. That translated into around 6000 chips in the PLO tournament, and around 1300 chips in the 30k where I simply could not get a card to save my life, but where I was determined not to donk out with a lesser-than-advisable hand prematurely.

Shortly after returning to my usual poker station, my luck turned and I doubled up quickly in the PLO tournament when my opponent made this ill-advised potbet at the river with what turned out to be his AQ:

And around this same time, I also suddenly starting hitting some cards (finally!) in the 30k as well. I won a big pot with AK when I raised it big preflop and then bet the King-high flop as well, getting my opponent to fold a big pot to me. Then I doubled up a few hands later with 99 against 66. Then AK again over AQ on an Ace-high flop. And before I knew it, I was up over 15000 chips in the 30k, and suddenly this flashed up on the screen:

and I had made the cash in the 30k, first time in nearly 6 weeks for that. Top 153 spots paid, and I was actually above average thanks to my spate of double-ups as I prepared to make the run to the top 100, the final 50 and eventually, hopefully, to the real money in this thing at the final table. I helped my cause significantly in making a real push in the 30k in this hand, when lazyj, the fish up on top of the screen, pulled the cardinal Hoyazo sin of calling my allin raise preflop with just AJs.

My 7's held up, albeit with a four-flush, but that's what that fidiot gets for playing that kind of donkeypoker late in a big tournament like this. It's always nice, at least once in a long while, and as long as it's not CC playing against me in a blogger tournament, when the guy who makes a questionable call with just two weak overcards against what he has to know represents a bigger hand than his preflop actually gets his comeuppance for their questionable play, instead of the rewards that have tended to be bestowed upon such players recently in my nlh tournament history. Anyways this pot brought me up over 27,500 chips, easily my high for the tournament thus far last night, and easily propelled me into the final 100 remaining players in the tournament just a short while later. In fact, I pushed this stack to over 37,000 chips a few minutes later when I flopped my first and only trips of the tournament and took down a big pot with a medium-sized flop bet after three significant-sized preflop calls:

Not too long after this, I find pocket Aces, my first time in this tournament, but my second time on the night if you count my earlier phuckage in the Big Game. Again I manage to get someone allin against me preflop, and again they flip over pocket Queens:

Now I know what you're thinking: No way it happens again, right? That would be too coincidental to have Aces cracked by Queens on the flop twice in one night. So what if Hoy has lost 5 of his last 6 times he's been dealt pocket Aces, there is just no way that could happen again here. Well, I gotta tell you....eh just look at it for yourself:

That is just fucking disgusting. That's 5 of 6 losses now with pocket Aces. And counting. 3 of the 5 have come at the hands of my opponent's pocket Queens too. I think of all the sickery involved in this Aces streak, that is the absolute sickest part of it all. Fucking Queens. The bane of my existence.

Speaking of the bane of my existence, my friend lazyj, the preflop-raise-caller-with-nothing-but-two-crappy-high-cards-preflop from earlier, raised again a few hands later from up front, this time with me holding pocket Jacks, which I reraised with appropriately:

Bonehead called again, this time getting himself allin preflop with AQ against a preflop reraiser -- the ultimate donkey move as we know -- but alas the poker gods had already really turned on me in this event:

and just like that, around 2/3 of my stack had disappeared in the span of 3 hands, one with my AA losing to QQ allin preflop, and then with my JJ losing to AQ allin preflop. What a fucking cruel and unusual punishment to watch 3 hours of work evaporate like that to that level of donkery and redonkulous luck. I'm still seething about it this morning as I write this. Fuck!

Meanwhile, back to PLO. After a long drought of card-death I went ahead and called my opponent's bet on this flop to get allin with my flopped trips, against a guy who moved me in with nothing but a bunch of draws and one card to come:

These draws amazingly failed to fill at the river, popping my stack over 40,000 in that tournament for the first time in the evening, and for the first time really getting me thinking about maybe actually final-tabling that event, which was down to just 24 players left, and 18 getting the cash.

Shortly into the 4th hour of the 30k, we crossed under 70 players remaining, and I won another nice pot with pocket Aces (5 out of 7 now!) to move over 50k in chips and into solid position for a run at the final table there, leaving me thinking maybe I hadn't yet been entirely written off by the poker gods for this one:

But that proved to be short-lived, as the gods and godesses were merely setting me up for the fall, which occurred mostly on this hand. MP open-minraises from the 2400 BB to 4800, and I call on the button with KQo. Here's the flop:

As you can see, when this guy minbet again on the flop, I didn't know quite what to make of the preflop and postflop minbetting, but I did know that I wanted the third opponent, just behind me, to get out so I had a fighting chance with my oesd, so I minraised that bet, and the third opponent folded, with the original guy upstairs calling my minraise. So I had gotten us to heads-up, and as long as my opponent wasn't holding an Ace, I was actually in fairly good shape to add significantly to my stack. When the turn card paired the 10 on the board, I figured I had to make my move now, with all the weakness my opponent had shown thus far in the hand, and while I still had over 20k in chips to make a serious enough bet to induce a fold. I went for it:

and he called, eventually showing nothing other than....pocket Aces:

That's fitting. The number of tournaments I have been eliminated from by running into pocket Aces is just astounding. And while I don't love my play on this hand, keep in mind -- especially for those of you who have never been late ITM in one of these large online nlh tournaments -- the blinds are just SO large, and the antes just so significant by this point in these big online tournaments, you more or less have to take some chances, or you won't have any realistic shot of making the final table, hitting the big prize money, or winning the whole tournament. So I know why I pushed when I did, I thought I had a good read and was just flat-out wrong. The guy minraised preflop with Aces, and then minbet on the flop as well. Maybe I should have sensed that for what it was, but at the time I read it as more of an honest bet than a slowplay, in that I had him on a middle pair, something below the highest card on the flop, but something worthy of seeing a flop with and maybe even sticking around for a small bet in the hopes of catching a monster turn card. Well, I like that I stuck with my read, and certainly playing by my reads of my opponents has served me incredibly well over my poker career. But not on this hand. I went out 2 hands later when my A5 ran into pocket Jacks, and in the end IGH in 42nd place overall out of 1545 players:

And speaking of which, check that number out: 1545 players in the 30k. That is, by far, the largest 20k/30k event I've ever seen on full tilt. When I first started playing in this tournament earlier this past spring, the nightly 20k typically drew maybe 700, maybe 800 players per tournament. That number has slowly crept up to 900, 1000 and just a few weeks ago it was not uncommon to see 1100 or even the occasional 1200 entrants into the nightly guaranteed tournament here. But since the passage of the UIGEA a couple of weeks back, and the resulting closure of partypoker to all U.S.-based players, full tilt is really reaping the rewards with increased traffic, and the 20k is no exception. So I won around $100 for my efforts, and ended in 42nd place, again easily my best finish since this summer's 5th place and 11th place runs. So that all was good. And yet, I can't help but think what could have been, and should have been, if not for the repeated horrific beats I am suffering at the hands of the poker gods.

While I contemplated how large of an animal I would need to sacrifice to the poker gods in order to appease them (and how, if at all, I would even be able to kill such an animal), I made the final table of the PLO tournament as well:

After outlasting three of the shorter-stacked players at the final table, I found myself in this situation, with the strongest possible starting hand of two Aces, and facing already four limps to my 3000-chip big blind when the action got back around to me:

I did the obvious move here, which is to raise the size of the pot. I'll take all those free chips please, and if anyone wants to call me for a large pot when I'm taking way the best of it with my AA at the final table, I'd love some of that as well:

Just one person called my pot-sized raise preflop, and we saw a raggy flop where my Aces were fairly sure to still be best. So I did what I had to do, hoping for a donkey call of some kind:

And a donkey call I got:

So he calls me allin with no part of the flush draw on the board, no trips, nothing. If you look, he didn't even have a straight draw working here -- no matter what, he was going to need two runner-runner cards to make a straight out of this board. I don't know if he was just tired of playing or what (it was close to 3am ET by this time), but this clown called me with just top pair and not even an Ace kicker. But as you know, Donkeys Always Draw, and the river card set this asshat up for good:

Unbelievable. All that work in both tournaments, only to get phucked recockulously by the cards in both. Oh well. I was out of the PLO event in 6th place overall out of 193 entrants:

netting myself another $70 or so in the process. So in all it was a very profitable night at the virtual tables for me, including over $130 from just the 30k and this PLO event, plus some nice wins in razz and plo cash games as well. I'm still definitely perturbed by the run of luck I've been having in mtt's recently (or lack thereof), in particular my problems winning with Aces, and my problems losing to Queens, and my problems ever winning with Queens of my own regardless of the circumstances. I will be in Mondays at the Hoy tonight as I try to work out some of these issues -- who am I kidding, I'll be donating my $20 buyin tonight to the first donk who calls my allin reraise preflop with their QJo vs. my pocket Tens -- but the MATH tournament is always a good time by all as well as a nice practice event for the weekly Tuesday night WWdN tournament, so come on by and have it out in the weekly battle for the $20 buyins:

See you tonight at Mondays at the Hoy!