Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving Day

Well, this is it. Just more than a week after saying goodbye to the company I've worked for for the past three years, today I bid adieu to the apartment I've lived in for the past five years and the city I've lived in for the last seven. In fact, right now I've got three guys frantically taping up, stacking ansd storing away all of my worldly possessions all around me while I toil away at the 1-2 nl tables on full tilt and watch CNBC until they take my precious flat screen away to be crated and loaded on the truck. I know my posting has been sparse to say the least of late, but that should get back to normal over the next week or so after the holiday as I transition to life in my new house, in a new city and at a new job. I haven't gone anywhere, but I've just been so dam busy over the past month or so that it's easily been the craziest month I've ever lived.

If I don't get around to posting on Friday, have a great Labor Day weekend everyone and here's hoping for nice weather, good friends and a healthy life for everyone out there.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Faceoff With a Pro, and $T Decisions

The suckouts continue to dog me fast and furious on full tilt, as I have managed to amass large stacks early in most of the mtt's I have run over the past week, only to find a way to get beat by a 2- or 3-outer somewhere just short of the money in most of the opportunities I have had of late to post another big score. Thankfully somehow I have remained profitable over the past week or two nonetheless, thanks to some more nice $T hits as well as a successful run at the O8 1-2 pot limit cash tables on full tilt.

Other than the cash play, my most exciting story of the weekend was probably winning one of these $75 buyin supersats to the Sunday night $535 buyin satellite to the 25k PLO heads-up tournament full tilt is running. Unlike the $26 buyin variety, of which I have played a few as well to a little bit of success and which are limited to 32 runners, the $75 buyins are not surprisingly a much better deal in that the players are only limited to 8. Thus, the formula is simple: win three heads-up PLO matches, and you've got your 535 bucks.

Making this one more fun for me over the weekend was the list of players, which included out of my seven opponents two guys whom I already had marked as uber fonkeys from my Omaha cash play, plus red FTP pro Chip Jett, a guy who I've seen on tv from time to time. My first heads-up match was against a guy I did not know, and I dispatched him in 19 hands when he refused to bet the pot on the turn in a spot where I had a large draw to a set, top two pair, a straight and a flush. When my somewhat obvious flush draw filled on the river, I made a large pot-sized bet and the guy simply could not lay down his turned straight. Fast forward a couple of nasty chat comments later (and some goading from me, natch), and I was on to waiting for my second opponent. At the time only Chip Jett's match was still running, with Chip on the ropes with under 900 chips to his opponent's 2100+.

Well it wasn't maybe ten minutes later when Chip Jett showed up a my second opponent. I guess he had come back quick and won, something that frankly is just not that uncommon in a game like Omaha where there are so many big draws and so many come-from-behind victories. It's always exciting to have a shot at a professional in a heads-up context, and frankly I have always thought this is one of the very best aspects of playing on full tilt. Chip is a player with $1.9 million in lifetime tournament winnings according to full tilt and 33 major tournament final tables, so I figured I was gonna have some fun with this one. And a fun time I did have.

For all seven hands the match lasted.

Hand 1 saw me raise before the flop to 90 and Chip fold:

In Hand 2 I checked preflop and then bet the flop with an oesd after Chip checked there too, also taking down a small pot and preserving my early chip lead (pun intended, what the heck):

Hand 3 was my first loss of the match when I called Chip's raise preflop with JJ66 rainbow, not a hand I love but in heads-up play I figured a good shot to make a winning set. We both checked after I whiffed the flop, but then Chip bet the pot on the turn and I had to lay it down with too many possibilities that all beat me:

With Chip and I basically even once again after three hands, Hand 4 saw me reverse what Chip did with me in Hand 3, as I raised preflop with a pair of Queens in my hand, Chip called, and then I bet pot on the flop with the overpair plus a Queen-high flush draw. Chip folded and I won 180 chips back:

I called a minraise from Chip to see the flop in Hand #5 with a soooted Ace, but had to fold to Chip's c-bet when I essentially whiffed:

In Hand 6, I once again raised preflop with KKxx in my hand, Chip called, and annoyingly an Ace flopped. Thankfully Chip checked with me on the flop, and the turn filled my inside straight, giving me the current nuts plus the nut flush draw with one of my Kings. I bet 540 chips, the full pot, and Chip called. Unfortunately the board paired on the end, and when I pushed 'em in, Chip folded pretty quick. I'm sure he had an Ace in his hand but I didn't get to see since he folded to my turn bet:

When Hand #7 started, I was already up in chips about 1850 to 1150 and obviously I want to eliminate a professional player with lots of tournament success as quickly as I can. I was dealt AKJ9 with the J9 soooted in diamonds, and I figured this hand was worth calling a preflop raise from Chip just based on high-card strength and nut straight possibilities alone. The flop came K64 with two diamonds, giving me top pair and the 3rd-nut flush draw, which I figure has to be a good flush in heads-up play. Chip bet out about half the size of the pot, and I went for the pot-sized raise, thinking I was probably ahead or at least very close. Chip re-reraised me allin, and I suddenly figured my top pair and/or 3rd-nut flush draw were likely no longer best, but for only another half of the current pot and with a chance to eliminate a tough player like this, there was no way I was laying down there. We flipped up our cards:

Where Chip surprised me holding just the overpair Aces plus a 6 for an alternative second pair. His pair of Aces was currently head, but with two cards to come, I had a ton of outs to my flush, to trip Kings or to Kings-over that did not hit Chip's hand to give him Aces-over. I had so many outs in fact, that I was actually a decent favorite, making this a great spot for me to call Chip's final half-pot reraise, again especially getting in at almost 60-40 to eliminate a guy with nearly $2 million in tournament winnings.

As you can see from the final screenshot above, I hit the Queen of diamonds on the turn to make my flush, and I had eliminated Chip Jett from the supersat, advancing to the final heads-up match where the winner would take down the $535 seat, and the loser would grab the booby prize of 17 whole dollars. I was overjoyed to see that my hu opponent in the final match was a guy I already had noted from a previous mtt satellite as calling with anything. The specific thing I had noted in this event was him calling me down with 3rd pair shit kicker on the river in a holdem match, after I had checked just one time in the hand. Now that right there is a great example of how some good notes can really work for you, in that this gave me a great plan to just bet my good hands and whenever else I thought I was ahead on the assumption that this guy was going to call call call. And that's exactly what he did. It took me 13 hands, which saw me get out to the early lead after he twice called my pot-bets on the flop only to fold on the turn. Eventually I won the match by hitting a flush on river when he had turned an inside straight with 54xx in his hand when I happened to be holding a 5 too, which made me think it less likely that a heads-up opponent would also hold one of the other three fives in the deck. So my read that he was bluffing was wrong, but I still had 9 outs to flush him plus three outs to make a higher straight, and as I mentioned I spiked the heart at the river to take it all down:

Blooooom! And then the best decision I made the entire tournament through I think came right after this, when I considered for maybe less than a minute before unregistering immediately for the actual $535 satellite and just keeping the cash to play another day. Why play the best Omaha players in the world for $535, where the odds are exactly 1 in 50 of me winning a dam thing? Answer: I have no idea. So I quickly unregistered, pocketed the $535 and I say thank you to this guy, whose advice a long time ago on playing the weekly 1k on full tilt has alway stuck with me, and lord knows my roll has been noticeably better off for it.

Oh by the way, today we got our fucking house. The lease is signed, we have the keys, and we took the Hammer Girls up to see their new abode today, their new bedrooms, new backyard, and especially the awesome new porch, where we sat and ate bagel sandwiches for lunch together as we start the next chapter in the lives of the Hammer Family. All this a full three days before the lease on our current apartment of the past five years was set to expire. It's a kickass house in the 'burbs, and while I still have my trepidations about suburban life in general, it's not like I don't know if I can hack it. I spent years 4-18 of my life in suburban Philadelphia, and my wife in suburban DC, so I know how it goes. But it's a great place, far better than the one we were so trying to get for the past month, and it just goes to show what a little desperation and a lot of hard work can accomplish in a very short amount of time.

And my wife thought we wouldn't have time to find a good place. Pshaw!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Big Night of a Different Kind

Wow did I have another big night earlier this week in online poker. Even though I managed to record a 2k+ swing on the day, it was completely different from every other big night I have ever had. Let me explain.

So as I've mentioned here recently, I've got a lot going on in my life right now outside of the poker world. Most urgently just now, I am in the unenivable position of needing to find a house to live in in the suburbs of New York City. Actually, that would be fine, but the problem is that I basically have only a couple of weeks to do it. How I let myself get into this situation is a loooong story for another day, but suffice it to say that literally with every passing day, the pressure on me to figure something out quick about a huge decision like this grows exponentially.

Anyways, long story short, earlier this week was a baaaaaad day. We thought we had this place, then we didn't get it, and then some events ensued that led me to some serious life tilt. I mean, top two or three days of life tilt since I started writing this blog some time ago. I was flipping out, as my friends from the girly chat could attest to. I had completely lost it.

And this is where my big day of poker comes in. In the olden days, I was having such an awful night, the old me would have gone and lost $2000 at the online tables over a short amount of time, and the sickest part is I would have enjoyed doing it too. I know -- I've been there before. Few buyins at $400 nlh (or higher!), not even giving myself a chance, betting the pot with every possible draw and stacking off with bullshit in my hand, plus throw in a handful of auto-donks at $110 and $220 sitngos to boot, pushing every ace-rag or sooted bullshit just like a good blogger should. Trust me when I say, I know from experience, that night was a $2000+ loss just waiting to happen. My roll can handle it, especially after last weekend's $T explosion for me, and I know how these nights have gone in the past. There just would have been no stopping me.

But instead, the other night saw the new me trump the old me as far as bankroll management. I 100% realized the mindset I was in, and I consciously forced myself to stay away from anything that could possibly cost me any significant piece of my very hard-earned roll. Instead I took a suggestion from a fellow blogger in the girly and played just one table of $10 buyin PLO, trying as hard as I could to lay one of those typical PLO bad beats on some cocknose as my way of dealing with the life tilt I was experiencing. And you know what? It worked! I felt much better after maybe half an hour of chasing every inside straight draw and bottom-two pair bullshit.

Grand total from my 30 minutes of blowing off steam at the poker tables? A loss of 55 cents. Adjusting for the rake I probably lost about a quarter while I got the exact same release that I used to get from blowing hundreds and even thousands of dollars, over basically the exact same period of time.

It was a 2k+ swing for me last night, trust me. If i had a screenshot to show the two grand I saved on the day, I would most definitely post it for posterity's sake. But believe me when I say, the next morning it feels fucking good to gaze at the ole full tilt balance and like what I see.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

FTOPS Comes Through After All

It was a good weekend of poker for me, and it couldn't have come at a better time as I have been getting crushed by the tables at full tilt for a while. The weekend still saw me get hammered with suckout after suckout like usual, but I managed to nail a couple of big ones in key spots to record one of my biggest weekends in a loooooong time on the virtual felt. First on Friday night there was this:

This was for a $2620 seat into FTOPS #22, the two-day tourney, and it was I think the biggest satellite win I have ever recorded on line. I think. Of course I unregistered for the actual event as fast as you can say "I saw Dark Knight this weekend and the first two endings were good but the last four endings really made the thing way too long like every other movie made in the past five years".

Seriously now, if it ended after they got the Joker it would have been prolly top 25 or 30 movies of all time. Instead they ran it another 80 minutes and took it out of the top 50 entirely, without a doubt. They went and turned a 9 into a 6, once again because the ego of the editor would not allow him to cut anything. And it wasn't just me -- everyone I've spoken to says the identical same thing -- that it was just too long -- and you could see it clearly in my theater. First hour and a half, total mesmerization from everyone. Last hour and 20 or so, like 20 people just in my immediate area (myself included) looking at their watches, falling asleep, checking the time on their cell phones, etc.

Heath Ledger though -- dayummm. I had heard he was awesome so many times that I went in there fully expecting to be let down. He was even better than advertised. Could there ever be anyone more destined to win Best Actor than this guy? I mean, as soon as he died, the Academy probably had already pencilled him in, but he did put on an awesome performance, one that shocked me by actually rivalling Jack Nicholson's portrayal a decade and a half ago. Couple the show he put on with his untimely death, and Tom Hanks might as well not even accept that cushy role slated for release later this year. This Oscar has Heath Ledger's name written all over it.

But can someone please tell me, why the F even bring up all that stuff about Two-Face? Why is that guy even in this movie? And all that ghey bullshit about rigging every cell phone in the city for sonar? Come on, why do you have to go and do that, huh? Was it really necessary at all for the plot to this film? I just don't get it.

And who the fuckleberry keeps giving Maggie effing Gyllenhall sex-symbol starring roles? Don't people know she is hideous? I mean it's not just that she pales in comparison to the real hot chicks in Hollywood. She is downright hideous, to the point that I physically don't want to look at her. Look, it is Bruce fucking Wayne. He is hot, single, and the richest guy in the world. Of course he's gonna be tagging the supermodel chick. And yet Maggie G. is his lifelong love? Puh lease.

And what's with the recockulous Batman voice whenever he has the suit on? Guy sounds like a fucking grizzly bear or something. Why can't he just use his regular Bruce Wayne voice even when he's in the costume? Some things I'll just never get.

Anyways, back to the poker. So I won that $2620 on Friday night for a nice padding of ye olde roll, and then on Saturday midday on a whim I decided to sit down to this, another turbo mtt satellite to the same FTOPS #22:

Blooom! And agin, I immediately unregistered for the tournament itself, which I will never, ever have a sufficient roll online to play in. But that was $5240 in $T over basically three hours of play between Friday late night an Saturday early afternoon, you can't beat that. That shit will allow me to donk around for what? At least a week or two, given the shit I am still suffering regularly on full tilt?

These turbo megasats are the shizzle. The first one, $216 to get in (I just buy in for cash), and the top 13 finishers out of 181 win the seats. And it's turbo, so it suits my game great and allows me to make a quick hit one way or the other. 1 hour and 44 minutes later, I net over $2400 despite overcoming a sick dominated suckout against me that had me down to fewer than 10 big blinds about halfway through the tournament when my AKo could not hold up against A9s. And the second mtt sat on Saturday, that one had a $535 buyin with 263 entrants, and the top 50 getting the $2620 seats. 1 hour and 41 minutes later, bloooom! Another $2100 net. Both of these satellites have awesome, awesome odds of winning considering the amount of money at stake, and the shit gets done quizznick. What more can I ask for? Like any turbo mega, it gets a bit hairy and pushfestian at the end there, but in both tournaments I was never close to the bubble line in the last several orbits of either, and I had a relatively easy run in both all things considered.

The trick with the turbo megasats is actually fairly simple. You have to be highly aggro, which is to say that if you get AK for example, you are basically getting it allin and hoping to get called. If youget a pocket pair Tens or higher, you're basically getting it allin and hoping to get called and take your chances. Otherwise, you just need to work hard to extract maximum value from every big hand yuo make after the flop, and you really can't afford to let an opportunity to do so pass you up. So you need to get a big stack as early as you can, and then keep your eyes on the stack sizes to make sure you are in position to win at all times, or as close to that as you can. So, for example, if you know there are 200 runners with 1500 starting chips and the top 20 finishers win the seats, then you can easily do some quick math and figure there re 1500 x 200 = 300,000 starting chips in total, and with the final 20 winning the seats, that means that the final average chipstack will be 300,000 / 20 or 15,000 chips. So, if 15,000 will be the average final stack of the 20 winners, then I want to try to build my stack until it is at least 10,000 or 15,000 chips, and then I want to try to preserve that stack size. That's all it takes. Get up to enough chips to win the seat, and then do whatever I have to do to to maintain.

And maintaining in these turbo megasats -- or really in any turbo satellite for that matter -- most definitely does not mean check and fold. It means steal enough to maintain that stack, but don't take any crazy chances when you don't have to. It means call with your monsters, but otherwise you're folding everything unless you are the first one in and have a reasonable shot of stealing the blinds and antes. And one of the keys is definitely to push before getting on the literal bubble when youre within 10 people or so of winning the seats. If you let yourself fold down to the point where you suddenly find yourself on the outside of the ITM positions looking in, you've already fucked up by waiting too long. Once I get myself into the top 20 spots when 20 spots will eventually win seats in the tournament, it is my job to steal when I can, and to resteal when it makes sense, to ensure that I do not allow myself to drop out of those ITM spots without a fight or without getting unlucky.

Also this weekend, I ran down to 24th again in the 50-50 on full tilt. I absolutely pwn that structure. In this tournament, I was actually dealt four separate premium hands, which is about 200% more than usual for me. Sounds good, right? Well, unfortunately, my AA lost to KK allin preflop about 3/4 of the way through the field, a disturbing trend that has seen me lose I think 9 of the last 11 times I have picked up AA vs KK, and otherwise I was dealt QQ three times and went 0 for 3 with them. It was not a good night for cards. And yet somehow I stole and restole my way to the final three tables, but eventually ran KTo into A2s and could not stop n go my way to victory thanks to my opponent flopping a flush draw and one overcard. What can you do, it was still another great run for me in the 5050 tournament on top of what was otherwise already a large weekend for me at the tables.

Unfortunately my weekend success most definitely did not extend to the FTOPS Main Event on Sunday night. The play in this thing was definitely horrible overall (what else is new), and that worked to my benefit by helping me to nearly 18k in chips from the 5k starting stack about three hours in. But eventually the exact same stuff full tilt has been pulling on me for weeks caught up with me, as I raised UTG of all places with the hammer and then went on to flop 72J. I got the guy in for a pot-sized bet on the flop, and another nearly-pot-sized bet on the offsuit King on the turn. Then on the rivered 9 I reverse hoyed the guy for his last 3500 chips or so, and of course he called and showed? Pocket 9s. You gotta love that. I make the hammer play of a lifetime, get big bets in on both streets, the guy can't lay down 99 with the Jack or the King on the board despite my UTG raise, and then the two outer on the river basically depleted me, taking about 90% of my stack. Yes I managed to aggro my way back from 2500 chips to over 13k, but the damage had already been done. I was finished as soon as I nailed two pairs with the hammer after an UTG raise but then lost to the 2 outer on the river. Eventually, once again getting short, I raised with K7s in the cutoff and got called by A6s of the exact same suit. No doubt how that one ended up, and IGH around 1000th out of over 4800 entrants. It was a good run, but a very poor ending despite outlasting more than 3000 anusheads.

Not that I can complain after the weekend I had online. Overall I netted more than 5k in pure profits, and more importantly I had a fuckin fun time doing it. I still need to find a way to avoid getting sucked out on when I'm way way ahead in key spots though if I expect to last real deep in anything big. Not sure what I'll be focusing on this week now that the FTOPS has come and gone once again, but I'm hoping to try to enjoy myself a little bit in a few weeks I have off in between jobs. That, and hopefully not watch my former company implode before my very eyes under the weight of an increasingly horrid financial crisis in this country and around the world.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Goodbye Cruel Work

So this is it. My last day of work where I've been for the past few years. My last day of the ghey suit and tie. My last day of the stiff-ass atmo and the stodgy demeanor of everyone in any position of power at the company. My last day working for the "back office" in a company which thinks "back office" somehow means "insignificant, unworthy pond scum". My last day working for the weak-willed shell of a man known as my boss. My last day dealing with the low-base big-bonus compensation structure of an investment bank.

But it is also my last day managing a team of lawyers and analysts whom I have really grown to know and love. My last day as the biggest fish in the small group which I have basically led for the past couple of years. My last day of being The Man with the answers for everyone around me. My last day of being everyone's favorite lawyer on a team where my other colleague and even my boss don't get even a tenth of the respect that I do, from anyone. My last day of basically mentoring and guiding the professional and personal lives of so many of the people around me.

After all my griping, I am definitely feeling sad today to be leaving, I really am. And don't get me wrong -- I'm glad overall I'm getting out of this place, I know it's the right time and I know this is a move I have to make. But the bottom line is, over the past year or so in this job I have earned my first opportunity as a lawyer to really be a leader, to build a team of lawyers providing top notch support to a large subset of clients in a major company. And that aspect of things has been awesome, and frankly it is something I am giving up when I go to my new employer in a few weeks. And I'm going to miss it, quite a bit actually. So I leave today with a sense of happiness and adventure, moving on to the next thing in my career, but I don't do it with all smiles. It's a sad day for me in many ways, as I say goodbye to so many of the great people I have had the chance to meet and the opportunity to work with and to lead over the past few years of my life. I can only hope that my next job brings me some of these same challenges and some of the same opportunities I have been able to land here in my time in the bank, although overall getting out of this environment -- especially at this particular time -- is something I am looking tremendously forward to.

Now it's time to move on to the next item on my agenda -- moving from the big city to the big suburbs of New York.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mixed Bag, and Fun With the Chatbox

Tuesday night was a mixed bag for me in poker, which I guess could be viewed as good or bad given my recent stretch of frustration. Despite all my talk about donking it up at the Waffles-level cash games (1 cent - 2 cent blinds) or just staying away from the game for the night, I was feeling much better when the time came on Tuesday evening, so I ended up running a few nice mtt's as if it were just a regular day, and I'm happy to say I played much better than I have been and that my mentality was pretty much where it should be. I ran three mtts on fuck tilt full tilt on the night, cashing in two of them, and I even allowed myself to get talked in to firing up the old ICB account and using some of that Bodonkey money to play a $44 mtt on the worst of the poker clients with Don in the midst of the best mtt streak of his poker career.

One thing I have to say about Bodog is that everything I've been hearing about the players there is pretty much spot on. I can't comment on the cash games since I don't play them there and can't see how playing against uber donkeys will be anything but bad for my aggressive always-get-in-ahead game, but Tuesday saw truly some of the worst tournament poker play I have ever seen. This $44 mtt started with 1500 chips, and I think after three or four hands I was already the chip leader with over 4600 chips. And I'd love to take credit for my awesome play in those hands or for being dealt AA and KK and shizz, but in reality I won two allin hands with top pair, one with top kicker and one which a 6 kicker. People literally threw their chips at me right from the getgo, it was pretty sick. Just as I've said the players on stars are worse at tournaments than those on full tilt, so far from one night's play I have to concur with what you've all been hearing -- the players on bodog are a serious joke. Playing against total idiots can be annoying in a way of course, especially when you are not a lucky player, but in general I can't really find anything good to say about the guys I ran into all through Tuesday's mtt run.

I got to do one of my favorite things last night in this bodog tournament which is ruin some jagoff's night after I busted him due to his poor play and total lack of understanding of his image. Basically, Don has just come to my table at the time, and I had been explaining to Don in the girly how I had watched this clown push allin on massive overbets on the flop and turn no fewer than 20 times in the first hour or 90 minutes of this tournament. While Don and I sat there, he again overbet every flop and turn he saw, probably two or three more times over a few minutes, and I was just licking my chops for the time I could actually pick up a hand against this clown. Long story short, a few hands later I find pocket 8s, and I see a flop of J32 against just the overbettor. He immediately bets out on the size of the pot on the flop, not even overbetting the pot which made me think for sure he was weaker than he wanted to be. I commented as much to Don in the girly, and I called his flop bet. Then the raggy undercard on the turn fell, and the guy again insta-bet me allin. I thought for about three seconds, figured if the donk of the century just got me then so be it, and I called off my stack with 2nd pair 8s. He flipped up pocket 7s and I stizznacked his ass. And then the chatbox blew up.

"How could you call that!"

"With all that money in the pot? Are you some kind of idiot?!"

"How on earth could you call that you donkey?!"

I love it. I've written about this many times before, quite recently even, but there is basically no one I love more at the poker table than a guy with a horrible image but who has no clue what that image is. We all know these guys -- the guys who call down with shit cards all night long, and then when you finally take a stand with a mediocre hand and bust them, they are nothing short of shocked and appalled. So I quickly decided on the thing that would probably bother this guy the most of all, and went for it in the chat:

Me: "Sorry, that was a misclick."

Donk: "WHAT?!! Are you ****ing KIDDING me?"

Me: "Yeah, so sorry. First time I've played here, I meant to click on another table."

A string of expletives followed. And the best part is, with my response I not only ruined the guy's entire night and left him I'm sure telling all his friends about his "unbelievably bad luck", but he is also assured of now continuing to play the exact same way he did last night. Anything I can do to keep the quality of play on bodog to a minimum, you all have me to thank. Just unreal these no-image guys.

Anyways, sadly my end results on the night still suffered from some horrific beats, as in fact each of my last three mtt's ended in a suckout or setup elimination for me. I just cannot shake the bad beats lately no matter how hard I try. In the bodog, another guy went on megatilt after losing two thirds of his stack on a bad beat himself, and pushed allin into my KQs when I was chip leader, so I quickly called and of course he had been dealt KK just one hand after tilting out of his mind. Then, the same anusnose pushed allin again when I had AK, and I called only to see -- you guessed it -- KK again not four or five hands later, and IGH somewhere in the mid teens for a small cash. So that was a very poor and shocking ending for a tournament which I literally led the vast majority of the way, but as far as one of my first mtt forays onto bodog, the players just plain sucked.

Sadly I suffered a similar fate in my other two late mtts on full tilt. In the 5050 I once again cashed, but I busted in the low 100s when my AA got allin against of all things AJ, and even though he was fully dominated by my pocket rockets, he still managed to runner-runner straight me. So ghey, but so standard for me lately on full tilt. Similarly in the $50 megasat at 9:45pm ET to FTOPS #17, which awarded $322 buyins to the top 20 finishers out of 130-some runners, I was top 15 in chips with 36 remaining when I managed to get some guy with a huge stack allin with his A7 on a board of 762 against my 88, putting me in position to double to the point where I surely could have gone to bed and made the cash (and I probably would have, at that hour), but then the clown runner runner flushed me with his 7 and IGH short of the payout spots. Hard to accept.

I know I sound like a broken record with my experiences on full tilt lately, but what can I say, variance is crushing me lately mostly in spots where I am getting it in ahead and just taking a serious beating. As I've said here many times, what more can I do than get allin preflop when I am dominating, or better yet wait until after the flop when I am ahead and have my opponent drawing to just a small handful of outs? It will all balance out in the end and I have surely had my share of success on full tilt overall, but my lord when things are running bad like this it can be really hard to believe. Frankly I can't even believe I'm willing to log in to the full tilt client these days after the consistent spankings I've been receiving, but I know I will be on there tonight to play the Mookie at 10pm ET (password as always is "vegas1"). I may be disgusted with full tilt but no way I am missing the grandpappy of all blogger tournaments just because of a little ass fucking from my favorite online poker site.

See you tonight, have the vaseline ready!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dont-Want-To-Play Tilt

I donked very much on purpose out of the FTOPS on Monday night, around the middle of the first hour. For a $1060 buyin. That's all you need to know about my mindset right now. I literally called an allin reraise with of all things the dreaded JackAce. And it's not like I thought there was a chance in hike that I was ahead.

Similarly, I donked my way all the way up to 3rd place out of around 300 remaining in the 50-50 last night. But then I suffered one stoopid bad beat that took half my chips, and from there I literally tossed into the garbage my still top-80 stack. On purpose. With 83o or some shit against a tight preflop raiser who was obviously calling my push.

I just didn't give a crap, and I didn't want to be playing poker.

Not sure what I've done in the past when faced with this feeling, although I remember feeling it (several times) before. Does that mean I play tonight or take another day off? I suppose only time will tell.

Miami Don final tabled one more tournament on Blowdog in the afternoon, and still another final table in the evening on Monday. That guy is really figuring shit out after a long time chasing the mtt dream without really getting the whole game about late-stage tournament play. There is almost nothing better than watching a friend advance his game like that. Hopefully Don will take some time to write about some of the changes he has made to his game almost overnight in the past few days that have brought him such awesome results.

Maybe he can teach me a thing or two about having the right mindset to play a tournament these days.

I have more questions about major areas in my life at this moment than I've probably had in quite some time. I'm not sure if that is contributing to my general poker malaise or what, but I'm just not focused on the game like I need to be if I expect to actually play the the game properly. Much of the uncertainty in my life should (hopefully) be taken care of over the next few days, so perhaps once that is done I can get back to my normal routine. For now I have no plans to play any more large-buyin FTOPS events, as believe me when I say I am just throwing my money away. Literally.

Hey, at least I write when I'm running bad. Personally I find it really cheapens the whole blogging experience if I only post when I am on a hot streak. To me this feeling of frustration and just lack of focus and desire to play is part of the fun in a sick way, part of the real poker experience. At least, everyone goes through it, some more often than others, and when you read here you've always gotten a real-world view of poker from the eyes of a regular tournament player. It ain't all fun n games folks, especially for an old tilter like me.

See ya around. Maybe I'll donk it up at some super low limit cash tonight or something to try and clear my head. Who knows.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekend Recharge

Man. A nice weekend of no poker whatsoever. No mtts. No sngs. No frigging FTOPS. And I have got to say, I am feeling gooooood this morning. You know it's bad when just staying away from the game for a few days feels so dam good.

I have really taken some sick losses lately. I don't mean in big spots so much (though many have been), but rather some just disgusting hands the way they all played out in the end. I'm still seething over getting pokerstarsed hard in Pauly's tournament last week, and that was a full week ago for crying out loud. But pokerstars has previously pissed me off so much that I didn't play there for a fucking year, and it's sad how quickly I get reminded why. When some f-wad is literally trying to lose and then stars hands him the most recockulous flop imaginable in a totally unreadable situation to stack my far better hand, it just brings me right back to all those feelings I've had over most of the past few years about stars. I don't know what I'm actually trying to say, because it's not like I actually believe that pokerstars if fixed or anything -- I've had far too much success on that site to think it is anything but totally on the up-and-up just like full tilt -- but that doesn't stop my brain from recognizing the patterns on the sites and reacting to them. When dickheads are calling large preflop reraises with 75o and then flopping straights against high pocket pairs, with A2s and then flopping trip 2s, it has to make any thinking person wonder why they keep playing at that site.

And the shit hasn't just been happening on stars either. It's just been a bad couple of weeks for me for sure. That's why this weekend was so enjoyable for me. On a whim I decided to take my girls home to my parents' house for the weekend, where they absolutely love to go and hang out with their grandparents, swim in the pool and eat some good old-fashioned Philly food. I will admit to having eaten not one but two Philly cheesesteaks over just the four meals I was home with them this weekend, and dam is that shit good. It's sad, really, how impossible it is to get a truly good Philly steak anywhere in New York City. I mean, this is the biggest, baddest, best city in the world, and the food from all walks of life and all ethnicities and geographic areas is known the world around, and yet you can't get a dam Philly steak anywhere to save your life. Oh sure, plenty of restaurants have a Philly steak on the menu, but when you actually order it, it's not thinly-shaved top round steak grilled in succulent frying oil on a fresh, fluffy Philly-style bun. Typically it is some crappy filet mignon, sliced maybe 4 or 5 times and then laid out on a toasted piece of garlic bread or some shit. As a Philly guy, let's just say it is a major insult and leave it at that.

Anyways, this weekend I chowed down on some real Philly steak right from the Philadelphia area, had a blast with my kids, and completely avoided poker. Until I got back late on Sunday and found perennial tournament hater Miami Don not only running way deep in the Bodog 250k guaranteed for one of his biggest tournament scores ever, but I also learned that Don went nuts this weekend and cashed for another two large or so in a few other mtt's over the past few days. Seeing another blogger really start figuring shit out mtt-wise is what it's all about, and it being Don is especially cool for me since we have spent so much time together chatting about the game, about tournament strategy, and really just bitching to each other about the successes we wish we were having in our respective poker pursuits.

So that right there was my one and only poker highlight of the weekend, and I have to say that I liked it that way. Now for tonight I had previously qualified for this $1060 buyin FTOPS nlh tournament that I have played I think once before, and I am inclined to give it a go again tonight after a weekend away to recharge. If I'm not feeling it I will surely unregister and keep the nice wad of cash for another day, but one of these days I figure I will play well and avoid the sickening suckouts which have twice dusted me out just short of the money in the full tilt 1k buyin events and hit a nice score. I certainly feel up to the challenge myself, even though I have to acknowledge that the 1k buyin tournaments are a much, much harder field to play against than my usual $26 and $50 rabble. So come on by tonight during the 9pm ET 1k FTOPS event and see if I am still alive and kicking, and otherwise maybe I'll see you elsewhere on the felt during the evening's pokerings.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Full Tilt Shootouts Suck My Ball

Instead of the nice, normal praise of everyone that I was going to post today, instead you're gonna get this.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, should EVER play a shootout on full tilt poker again.

The shootouts on full tilt are horrible. They are beyond horrible. I mean, it's one thing to have something fail because of technological reasons. Those are embarrassing as shit, and full tilt has certainly had its share of those, with the servers crashing and whatnot. But the saddest thing about the full tilt shootouts is that the errors involved are not technical in nature. They are Just. Plain. Stupid. Honestly, you would never ever believe there are actual pros behind the scenes here running this site. Although I've only ever said two words to any of the poker pros who are actually associated with full tilt, I know them enough to know that not a single one of them would support any facet of the way full tilt has structured its shootout tournaments right from the first time they became available.

Silly me to expect that after not having shootouts for like three years on their site, when they finally get them going, they're still set up like the way a blogger would likely set them up. Fucking ridiculous.

Think back to Loretta's short-lived Sunday heads-up shootout tournament. These idiots then and even still now start people in later rounds with different amounts of chips. That whole notion is so sick, no real bona fide pro would ever consider playing for any real money with that setup. It's recockulous. So on Thursday night in the "NOT FTOPS #3" tournament, which I paid $109 of my hard-earned money to enter, I started out with 3 players at my starting table, and since it was a double-stack tournament, we all started with 3000 chips. Thus, when I won my first table, I moved to my second table (after a full hour delay, yet another delicious part of these shootouts) and started there with the 9000 chips I had amassed from my first table. And yet, two of the six players at my Round 2 table started with 6000 chips.

Now I understand, and everyone has been through this before, that I had to go through an extra player in Round 1 and these 6000-chip guys only had to play through one player in their first round table. But you know what? I don't give a fuck. Start everyone with the same number of chips in Round 2 you ass puppies!! What the fliggity fluck is so hard about that? Just fucking do it! What the fuck man. In Loretta's tournament, we had people starting Round 2 in a heads-up matchup with one guy with 3000 chips and the other starting with 1500. Could anything show just how gheyly idiotic this setup is more than that? I mean, so what if twice I won Loretta's tournament after starting Round 2 with 1500 chips to my opponent's 3000, still for a mere mortal, starting off 1500-3000 in a heads-up battle is not even close to a fair deal. It's the height of folly. Period. PERIOD!! Don't try to deny it, just fucking change your shootout structure full tilt!! If anything was ever indefensible, it's that. Period. Fuckfaces.

So yeah, on Thursday night I started off in Round 2 of the $109 shootout with 9000 chips along with three other players, while two others at my table started with 6000. It's unfair and it is truly recockudonkulous. It's not even close to not being recockudonkulous. And last night I was one of the 9000-chip guys, but I'm still telling you. Full tilt oughta be embarrassed to even try to run such an event on their site, and the pros who play there and own the shit should be mortified to be associated with such a practice. Some of you guys know Howard Lederer a little bit. Do you think he thinks this is the right way to play a shooout tournament? How about Jesus Ferguson? Better yet, do you think any of these guys would put, say, $1000 of their own money into a tournament where in Round 2 there are likely to be people starting out with 50% more chips than him? If you think they would, then you are a genuine schmuck. They wouldn't even consider doing such a thing, and in fact if you told them this story and didn't let them know that it was full tilt where it happened, they would immediately advise you never to play any poker at that site because it's obviously run and owned by a bunch of schmike (plural of schmuck in hoy-speak).

But the kicker here is, this isn't even the dumbest or most redickufuck thing about the full tilt shootouts anymore, as they have apparently "upgraded" the payout structure since they first brought this format to full tilt with a software upgrade a few months back. So last night there were 500-some entrants in the 6-max $109 shootout, and it listed that it pays 108 spots. After Round 1 there were 216 players left, meaning that the top half of the remaining field would get paid out. I had already been girly chatting with a few of you out there about how stoopid that payout structure is, because it really means that at one table you could run down to heads-up quickly and then lose, and still be one of the first half of players eliminated in Round 2, and therefore not get paid. This does not seem like a fair outcome in many ways, but when you think about it, is it really any different from a regular tournament? In a regular mtt, the players at one table could all play super slow and super tight, all stall their way to the bubble, and a bunch of short stacks not only could but do cash in mtt's several thousand times every single day of the year playing in just this exact way. Most of the completely scrotumless bloggers out there have repeatedly stated that stalling is a key part of the game, and even though every single person who's ever made that point is an undeniable pussy loser, it's still something that is simply a part of tournament poker, both live and online, for as long as there's been tournaments and will be for as long as there is tournament poker going forward.

So anyways, I'm playing this thing, and I'm doing well at my Round 2 table. The number of players remaining is whittling down, whittling down towards the 108 ITM positions. 120 left, 116 left, 112 left, and my stack is still strong, sitting me probably right around the halfway mark of the remaining players. Of course then I find pocket Aces and some anusass flops a set of Jacks and depletes me down to 112th out of 112 remaining with some 600 chips. Several of you out there were on the girly with me laughing at the horridious luck I have been facing this week, but then you got treated to the greatest display of aggro-stealery in history, as I proceed over the next 15 or 20 hands or so to raise and push my way back all the way up to over 6000 chips without even being called one time. It was amazing. Along the way there the bubble bursts and we are down to 108, 105 and eventually down to under 100 players left in the tournament. So I know I'm going to cash at least, and with my still-short 6600 chips I am still playing relentlessly aggressive poker to try to double up or go home. Suddenly in the midst of my raising allin in maybe 15 of the previous 20 hands, I find pocket Queens and I know I'm in great shape with the worst possible table image. I bump it up again, knowing I will get no respect, and the guy to my left pushes allin with a larger stack than mine. I call of course, he has pocket 6s (what a play with pocket 6s btw), and natch he flops a 6 and IGH in 98th place.

Only that is when things start to get freaky. The little window pops up and informs me that I just finished in 118th place in the tournament. Conveniently, out of the money positions by some 10 places. Hmmmm. I check the lobby, and there are only 68 players remaining in the event, and yet when I check the leaderboard out, there I am showing as busted in 118th place on the list. Even though I just busted out not two seconds earlier.

Upon further inspection, the geniuses at full tilt poker have set up their shootout payouts such that the fucking thing literally shows the top 108 spots paying out, and literally shows fewer than 70 players remaining at that time (which was accurate), but apparently they are saving fucking spots lower down on the list from the number of players remaining, so that when people bust with more people left at their table, they will be slotted in as busting significantly lower than the number of people actually remaining in the tournament at the time of their bust! Sure enough, I click through to full tilt's shootout payout structure rules on their website, and there it is in black and white. So apparently everyone who busts out 3rd of in their Round 2 tournament will automatically be slotted in as being eliminated from the tournament in spots 108-144, regardless of how many people were actually left in the event at the time of your actual elimination.

Sheer fucking brilliance, huh?

So there I am, I literally watch the bubble break, and I am conrgatulated by several friends who are watching the tournament with me in the girly. I play down further, and I make decisions about how I play certain hands based on the fact that there are already far fewer people remaining alive than the number of spots being paid out. We're then well below 100 players left -- in fact as I mentioned there are only 68 players remaining at the time of my untimely bullfuck cocknshit bustout that took not one but two flopped sets against my dominating higher pocket pairs to knock me out of this thing. There are fucking 68 players remaining, and when I bust I am slotted in to spot #118th?

Nice job, full tilt.

Do not play ANY, and I repeat -- ANY -- shootout tournaments on full tilt until they fix this shit up! You would think it is fucking rocket science, figuring out how to do a shootout tournament. Either these horses' asses are limiting the number of entrants to a multiple of 2, or they're starting people with 100% or 50% more chips than other people at every table in every round after the first round in these shootouts, or better yet they are inexplicably changing things from the very same way every other tournament that has ever run works as far as being able to pussy-stall and last to the money positions. They're showing 68 runners left and the top 108 paid, and then when I bust out 68th, they decide to "route" me to having busted out in 118th place. They're showing me already in the lobby who's busted out in 69th place, and yet there are 98 players officially left in the tournament?

Sheer brilliance huh.

Can somebody please get the guy who makes all these decisions for full tilt a poker blog right away?

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Thursday, August 07, 2008


Wow. I mean, wow. Brett Favre a New York Jet. Needless to say, this city is electric this morning.

It's like this. As many of you know, I'm a Philadelphia fan through and through. In all the sports. Yep, that's right. Phillies. Eagles. Sixers and Flyers. The whole shebang of local franchises where I grew up and where my family still is today. So let's just say that I know what it's like to be a fan of loser teams and the butt of every joke a city across. As my few fellow haters bloggers from Philadelphia are all too keenly aware, it means a special something to be a real hardened Philly fan. You grow up with a certain feeling -- call it pessimism, call it inevitability, fate, whatever -- but you basically know how mostly every season is going to end before it even begins. And it really affects you, inside and outside the world of sports, in ways that only a true fan of Philadelphia could ever understand.

The New York Jets are one of the very closest things to these Philadelphia teams, another team that hasn't won a superbowl in basically two generations. A team that always seems to find a way to lose, to trade the better players for the worse, and the one who always seems to come out on the losing end of every transaction and just every occurrence in which they are involved as a franchise. Get the first pick in the draft? The guy blows his knee out in training camp. Picked to finish first in the division for the first time in over 20 years? Quarterback shreds his Achilles tendon early in Game 2 and the team ends up 4-12. Trade for the coach who just won one of the toughest divisions in football? Guy ends up being the literal worst coach in any sport in the history of time and is gone after two abysmal seasons. It's just like that when you're a fan of the Jets, and again it's eerily similar for me to what my own sports fandom has been in my nearly 30 years of being an avid fan of all the Philly teams.

So Brett Favre struts into town with the truly shocking news in this area that he has been traded for what, a 4th round draft pick. And you know what? I have absolutely no doubt that Favre is going to make some real waves here in this city. I mean, many people just aren't cut out to play and live in New York City. For some it's too busy, for some it's too loud, for some it's too big, and for many it's just too much of a microscope, and they end up cracking under the pressure, performing poorly and/or just flipping out. I remember Randy Johnson in his first week as a New York Yankee literally punching out a camera man who was asking too many questions up in Johnson's face. Guys like that, and there are many of them, just aren't cut out for the big city like this. Scores of other players just find out they could never handle the media scrutiny, the constant criticism, the millions of fans writing, talking, calling into sports radio, etc. all picking apart every little thing their star athletes say or do. It's a rough life, and it takes a special kind of player with a special kind of focus, including an uncanny ability to tune out all the noise that comes along with being in New York, to really survive here and to thrive here.

But Brett Favre is just such a guy. Even though he's from the back woods of Mississippi and has spent basically his entire life there and then in the local-community environment of Green Bay, the guy still has that certain je ne sais quoi about him. More than anything else, it's a presence. Favre is going to step foot off the plan at LaGuardia in a day or two, and I'm telling you, he is instantly going to be the king. If there is any quarterback in the NFL that is just plain cool, it's Favre.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say this is the greatest thing to happen to the NFL since Joe Namath's improbable victory in I think the third superbowl ever back in the late 60's. Personally, I think one of the big losers in this ends up being Brett Favre. Sure, he gets to keep playing football, and obviously with the shit qb's the Jets have going on right now, he will be the obvious started right from the get-go for his new team. And yes, he gets to continue his already-record streak of consecutive starts at quarterback in the NFL. But there are two big downsides to this move. The less significant downside in my mind is that Brett is now playing for the hapless Jets, and I don't think he is even close to good enough to overcome the loser mentality that afflicts that franchise as bad as any of the Philadelphia teams. So Brett is in my mind jumping out of his current situation and into another where he is highly unlikely to have any huge success, and I don't think even the Favre-enabled Jets are anywhere near good enough to make the superbowl, or even possibly to make the playoffs in what is sure to be another stacked AFC.

But the worst part of this whole thing is that I always cringe a little whenever one of these franchise guys who spends more or less his entire career playing for one team in one city and building a bond with the fans and really the entire community, suddenly up and leaves for a new team, new city, etc. I mean, did it feel good to you watching Joe Montana end his career as a Kansas City Chief? Now Favre is in some ways throwing away everything he built up over the previous 16 seasons in Green Bay. There is just something magical to me about these all-time greats at their sport, starting and ending their careers with the same team and going down in history as an icon for the city in which they always played. The Robin Yount / George Brett type of athletes. Now Favre has removed himself from this venerable group, and personally I never find that history reflects quite so well on such players once they leave the friendly confines of the city, the field and the fans where they became famous. I suppose only time will tell if Favre lives to regret the decision to venture away from his home away from home in Green Bay and to the media center that is New York, where the fans are crazed but the team has basically been a comedy of errors and a comedy of failures over the past many, many years.

What's that? Oh this is supposed to be a poker blog? Well eff poker. I am tilted beyond tilt these days. It's so bad that on Wednesday night I went and unregistered from a couple of FTOPS tournaments I had previously been all set to play later this week and weekend, and I'm not sure when the next time will be that I'll be up to putting up hundreds of dollars of my very hard-earned cash on the line when I can't beat players who bet at me on 6th street with three of a kind or two high pairs showing in razz (both true stories!) and I haven't flopped a set in probably four months. Eff poker, did I mention that already?

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008


So the FTOPS is upon us once again, with the first event of FTOPS IX slated to go off on Wednesday evening at 9pm ET. Given my stated focus on playing in the bigger cash tournaments out there, I am always a real FTOPS whore, which will be especially true this time around since the last time the FTOPS ran in May, I was completely out of pocket thanks to a little dose of mononucleosis. Fun times as that was, I'm definitely looking forward to making some runs in this month's FTOPS tournament series, which I believe is the biggest and longest of any FTOPS series yet run by full tilt -- now 25 total events and I believe $15 million in guaranteed prize money. Today I wanted to take a look at the entire schedule of events and see which ones I plan on playing and which I might consider taking a shot at, even if it means buying in direct for cash. This is actually the first time I have ever sat down and looked at the entire schedule, so me doing this is more for me than it even is for you guys, but here is the full schedule of the 25 events comprising FTOPS IX, along with any comments I have after each:

Event #1
Wednesday August 6th
21:00 ET $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em $1,000,000

This first event of the FTOPS is one I have played in in basically every single FTOPS series that has run since I've been a full tilt tournament guy, as the series always begins with a standard-buyin $216 no-limit holdem tournament. This one is no exception, and I'm expecting it will be really huge since they've been running a billion satellites into this thing over the past few weeks. It's a bit late at this point, but the best ways to play into this thing on the cheap are either the nightly $10 rebuy turbo satellite that runs somewhere shortly around 9:50pm ET every night heading up to the onset of the FTOPS, or the incredibly soft $75 one-table sngs that run at all times and which pay out seats to the top 3 out of 9 finishers.

Event #2
Thursday August 7th
14:00 ET $240 + $16
PL Omaha/8
Knockout $200,000

Would love to play this one as I did two FTOPS series ago, but the timing in the middle of the day and with me leaving my current job in a couple of weeks, it's just not going to happen. This is a kickass tournament though, I highly encourage all you suckbox luckdonks out there to get in on the draw-heavy Omaha action. You know who you are.

Event #3
ThursdayAugust 7th
21:00 ET $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
4 x Shootout
6-Max $250,000

This looks new to me, although recall that I did not play at all in FTOPS VIII so it might have been in there as well. I suspect I will be buying in direct to this one on Thursday night.

Event #4
Friday August 8th
14:00 ET $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em
1 rebuy and 1 add-on
6-Max $600,000

Another kickass tournament that I won't be playing in because of the timing. Personally I wish the 1r1a FTOPS event could be $216 buyin instead of $322, but in a way the larger buyin isn't so bad since it is only a maximum investment of under a grand. Maybe next time around for me.

Event #5
Friday August 8th
21:00 ET $200 + $16
Stud $100,000

Stud tournament? Blech.

Event #6

Saturday August 9th
14:00 ET $500 + $35
PL Omaha
6-Max $300,000

Here's another one for the suckboxes out there. The timing makes this one a no-go for me but I'm sure some of the omadonks will have a blast spending a grand to qualify and then dropping the 5 hundy when some longshot draw sucks out at the river.

Event #7
Saturday August 9th
16:30 ET TBD $100 + $9
NL Hold 'em
Rebuy $500,000

Not a huge fan of big-buyin rebuy tournaments, but at $100 a pop I do like the setup here and wish the time were later so I could get in on some of this. I don't mind missing it thought as the donkery is sure to be fast and furious early in this thing.

Event #8
Sunday August 10th
14:00 ET $240 + $16
NL Hold 'em
6-Max Knockout $500,000

Badass tournament right here. Shorthanded, knockout and a nice buyin level should combine for a super fun event. Again there's no way I'm playing a 2pm Sunday event but for those of you who like to frequent the Sunday Brawl, this one should be a no-brainer.

Event #9
Sunday August 10th
16:00 ET $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em
Heads Up $500,000

More badass. One of the few setups where I do think $500 is a good buyin level is in the heads-up tournaments. Once again Sunday at 4pm ain't happening for me but if I had the time and the cash I would be in here for sure.

Event #10
Sunday August 10th
18:00 ET $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em $1,500,000

This is another tournament that has run in this same time slot in basically every FTOPS for a couple of years now, and also one to which full tilt runs copious satellites to allow anyone who wants to get in and has a modicum of tournament skill to win his or her seat. Personally I have already won 3 if not 4 seats to Event #10 this time around, which was the same story in the last FTOPS I played in because they not only have excellent 1-table sngs for the $322 nlh tournament, but they also run regular nightly mtt satellites to it for a $50 buyin, I think maybe at 10:40pm ET every night, or something right around there. That nightly mtt sat is a great place to run into some bloggers as well as it is one of the best values around for your money in mtt play.

Event #11
Monday August 11th
14:00 ET $200 + $16
Limit Hold'em $200,000

Omg thank god this one is a Monday at a bad time. Let the Euros have their little limit tournament and save the real poker for that evening.

Event #12
Monday August 11th
21:00 ET $1,000 + $60
NL Hold 'em
6-Max $1,500,000

This is the one I mentioned yesterday that I am really looking forward to given how infrequently I get to play events with 1k buyins. The way to get in to this one is to qualify in the $165 buyin satellites that run I think several times nightly, most notably for my schedule at 10:20pm ET every night leading up to the FTOPS. The best part about these sats which themselves have that steep $165 buyin is that full tilt is smart about it, and they run nightly turbo supersatellites to get into the $165 events for the couple of hours preceding the satellite every day of the week. I've still never cashed in a 1k buyin event on full tilt, although I have come sickeningly close once in the FTOPS and once in the regular Monday 1k, so I'm hopeful I can do more than I have in the past in this one when it goes off in a couple weeks.

Event #13
TuesdayAugust 12th
14:00 ET $200 + $16
HA (half PL Hold 'em,
half PL Omaha) $200,000

Bad time for me, but a fun game with half holdem and half Omaha high. The best part is, the pot-limit structure as opposed to no limit definitely favors the more skilled players as opposed to the two-card push monkeys that we all know and love.

Event #14
Tuesday August 12th
21:00 ET $500 + $35
HORSE $300,000

Here we have my biggest money drain so far in this FTOPS, as I have probably played 4 different satellites mostly at $75 apiece without success to qualify for this bad boy. Sometimes I really can't believe I'm the same guy who was so strong in HORSE back a couple of years now, and it seems like forever ago that I managed to win the weekly Sunday HORSE 30k guaranteed tourney on full tilt. I plan to make a few more attempts here in the coming week or so, but I'm not going to go nuts with it, and at $535 to get in, I really hope I don't just buy in direct. From my view, if I can't find a way to satellite in to this event for a reasonable price, then I don't belong playing in there either.

Event #15
Tuesday August 12th
21:00 ET $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
Turbo $500,000

I will most definitely be in this event, as turbo mtts are one of the secret pleasures in my poker mtt life. It's a fairly new FTOPS event, but I believe it is the one and only tournament I actually made the time to play in May when I was bedridden, and I cashed it and ran well doing so. Best part about this one is that the whole thing is probably done in just over two hours start to finish. Like I said, there's almost no way I miss this thing, and although I do not recall seeing many satellites to it thus far, I will fork over the cash to get in direct if that's the way it has to be.

Event #16
Wednesday August 13th
14:00 ET $200 + $16
Omaha/8 $200,000

I would love to play a good old-fashioned O8 tournament as this is a game I have had a fair amount of success in over time, but unfortunately the Euro-friendly time once again is shizz for me so I will have to pass. But that won't stop me from continuing to compete in the many sng satellites to this event, which are soft as balls, and then just unregistering and keeping the $T.

Event #17
Wednesday August 13th
21:00 ET $300 + $22
NL Hold 'em
6-Max Rebuy $1,000,000

Hoy says no to $300 rebuy tournaments. Some aggro donk with a huge bankroll though will win a pretty penny when all is said and done here. My guess is no bloggers really try to run an event like this though, myself definitely included.

Event #18
Thursday August 14th
14:00 ET $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em
3 x Shootout $300,000

Once again the timing is wrong for us working stiffs in the U.S., and of all structures I am not really a shootout guy in any event.

Event #19
Thursday August 14th
21:00 ET $300 + $22
Mixed Hold'em
6-Max $300,000

I mentioned yesterday that I recently qualified for this tournament, and I'm actually really looking forward to it. Yeah I'm not a huge limit holdem fan, but I've read all the "bibles" of limit play and I can play it well despite its donkish nature as a game that generally rewards and really forces drawing hands to stick around and suck out. And mixing it with half no-limit really makes for an entirely different feel than a straight dickass limit tournament. Definitely my preferred way to get in to this thing are the regular $105 sng satellites that are always filling up on full tilt.

Event #20
Friday August 15th
14:00 ET $200 + $16
NL Hold 'em
6-Max $400,000

Nothing like some good old-fashioned 6-max nlh, even though this isn't a game I've spent any real time playing for over a year now. If I'm around that Friday night, I will make an attempt to get in this thing. That said, this will also be my last official day at my current employer, so I might likely be hammered out of my mind.

Event #21
Friday August 15th
21:00 ET $300 + $22
Razz $150,000

I'm pretty sure only a monkey plays online razz at this buyin limit. I haven't been sucked into playing this event in any FTOPS yet, and I won't be starting now.

Event #22
Saturday August 16th
14:00 ET $2,500 + $120
NL Hold 'em
Two Day Event $2,000,000

Someday maybe I will play in this thing. But not this time around. Two days including afternoons over a weekend is not happening for me. Plus I imagine I'll still be sleeping off quite a hangover after my Friday night end-of-work festivities.

Event #23
Saturday August 16th
16:30 ET $100 + $9
PL Omaha
Rebuy $350,000

I'd love to play any $100 PLO rebuy tournament, but #1 I am not nearly luckboxian enough to survive in this thing with fewer than 15 or 20 rebuys, and #2 the time is bad at 4:30pm ET on a Saturday. So no-go for me, but the luckboxes ought to be out in force for this one.

Event #24
Sunday August 17th
14:00 ET $120 + $9
NL Hold 'em
Knockout $400,000

Again, Sunday at 2pm ET is bad for me, but otherwise I would love to play any knockout tournament with a low-ish buyin in the FTOPS.

Main Event
Sunday August 17th
18:00 ET $500 + $35
NL Hold 'em $2,500,000

Obviously I would love to play in the Main Event, especially given that juicyass $2.5M guarantee, and I am more than willing to buy in for cash although I'm quite sure I can satellite in between now and the 17th if I make it a point to do so. They have a nice $20 nightly rebuy satellite that is quite winnable compared to the other straight $26 sats they run, plus there are usually a few sng satellites going as well, and of course there is always that juicy night-before megasat with the $50 buyin where 1 out of every 10 runners will win their seat. Odds are around 50-50 I would say of me being in there, although if I do win a satellite seat then I might get up the nerve to attempt to get pre-approval for this one.

OK this post is much longer than even I intended, so I'll get it up there now. Look for me tonight in the megasatellite to FTOPS #1 that will run tonight I think at 9:45pm ET. I've already won multiple seats to this event but as I mentioned above the megasatellites are simply the very best value out there for anyone who understands solid tournament and satellite poker.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Rally Shirt

Well I didn't really talk a lot about my own poker play last week due to some more significant life events going on with me, but when I last wrote about it a couple of weeks back, I was mired in a sea of bad beats and bad play. As primarily a tournament guy, running bad is as bad as it can possibly be. I think this is because the structure and pace of the tournament basically forces people to take action with hands they might not otherwise push with in a cash game, and as a result I constantly find myself in situations where I either am a big favorite with all the money in the middle, or at least where I should be a big favorite if not for some gheyness involved in the hand somewhere like the dreaded "pokerstars flop" or running Kings into Aces situation. Unlike most people, I can't stand getting beat out of a tournament early on, and in most cases I would almost still rather prefer to run to the bubble and then lose rather than bust in the first half-hour in a bad beat. To me, the journey as opposed to the result is most of the fun, and I like a run through 1000 players in the 50-50 and then busting just short of the money more than I appreciate full tilt having the courtesy of just running my KK into AA in the first few orbits. Maybe it's just me.

Anyways, a couple of weeks back I had taken a huge number of bad beats more or less in succession, and let's just say that is effing sucked and leave it at that. But last weekend, something interesting happened -- as I was digging through my closet and my sea of white t-shirts that I wear undernearth my shirt almost every day of the year, I came across my good old full tilt shirt that I got from the full tilt booth during my first World Series of Poker back in 2005. I hadn't seen this shirt in several months, and frankly I had forgotten all about it until it showed up in my hand there from buried deep on the top shelf. Anyways, I put that bad boy on, and let's just say that, with the exception of a very very ghey last night, the past week has been very very good to me poker-wise. I can mention a couple of the highlights here, but as far as I'm concerned it's all too far in the past at this point to write a whole lot about.

Starting at the beginning, a little over a week ago, as I was preparing to give my notice that I would be leaving my current job in a couple of weeks, I final tabled the 50-50 tournament on full tilt, my 5th or 6th final table in this tournament just this year. After being the chip leader from 27 players left down until around 13 or 14 remaining, I made two aggressive plays against short stacks I read for just trying to hold on for the final table, losing with AQ against 66 and then with 99 against AK, leading me to enter final table play in 4th place of 9 stacks left. In the end, I busted in a very disappointing 6th place given my recent chiplead, netting me $1750 or so, but I know I left probably a couple grand on the table by being incorrectly aggressive in a spot where every short stack who busts before me would translate directly into more cash into my (virtual) pocket. Basically, the highly aggressive chip leader, at the time one of 3 players at the table who could bust me, raised under the gun with 6 left at the 5050 final table, and I decided to push allin on a sizeable reraise with my ATs. The F-head instacalls with AQo -- the very move that has cost me countless runs in the Mookie at an even more shorthanded final table -- and I'm done. Now I can't kill the guy for that call, but #1 I would never have made it with the chiplead, and #2 like I said it's just frustrating that everyone else seems to win when they overplay AQ big time, and yet I don't seem to win much with it even when I play it correctly. Oh well, can't complain about another 5050 final table, but as always it was a bittersweet moment to bust out without winning this thing or at least nabbing one of the big top-3 cash payouts. Next time perhaps.

In Mondays at the Hoy last week, which turns out to be the very last MATH tournament of all time, longtime blonkament crusher Surflexus was the fitting winner, taking down the $168 first prize as he won the shootout and became the final MATH champion.

Meanwhile, earlier that weekend the power of the shirt change was in effect for me as well, starting with that 5050 final table and continuing through several FTOPS satellite wins, so many that I really don't remember the exact numbers. I know I have won at least four seats to FTOPS #1 after the past week, as well as entries into a few other events that I've unregistered for because some combination of the game or the time don't work for me. I have also remained registered for a number of the other FTOPS events to which I have won seats thus far and which I do intend to play. That includes my usual haunts including FTOPS #1 $216 buyin nlh which goes off this Wednesday evening at 9pm ET, my usual spot in the Sunday $322 buyin nlh tournament as well, plus a few other fun ones. My crowning achievement FTOPS-wise so far has been winning my second attempt in the nightly 10:20pm ET satellite for a $165 buyin into the $1060 buyin FTOPS event, which I nabbed here early last week:

Another fun event that I will be playing in the FTOPS for the first time -- and in fact this is the first time I have ever seen this event in the FTOPS so it may be the first time they've ever run it -- is a new $322 buyin tournament in "Mixed Holdem", which is alternating rounds of limit and no-limit holdem. I won this in the very first satellite I ran over the past week in this event, and even though limit holdem can be quite very ghey, as an alternating structure with no-limit sprinkled in there, I found it acceptable if not somewhat enjoyable even. In the satellite I played to win this seat, I took a brutal beat early on the river, only to lay a sick bad beat on the same player heads-up at the final table when dominated to take the big lead, going on to win it the very next hand when this guy tilt-pushed and I called with A5 vs. his Q3o. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Delicious limit holdem.

Later this week I will take a full look at the upcoming FTOPS, which once again begins this coming Wednesday evening on full tilt, and take a look at which events I plan to play and which I plan to buy in to direct as opposed to satelliting in to. After an awesome last week and thanks again to the wonders of $T, the account is really flush with cash and there's no reason I shouldn't be able to buy in direct to any of the events that I don't qualify for via satellites online. I'm also looking really forward to the nightly megasatellites starting up on Tuesday evening at 9:45pm ET, as these things tend to be some of the easiest money available as far as us mtt guys are concerned.

And don't forget, no more MATH for those of you who missed my announcement at the end of last week, so don't go looking for it on full tilt and then send me a nasty email or leave the messy comments on the blog. I know it's the right decision though, because honestly I feel nothing short of relief that I don't have to pimp this thing, play this thing or write it up tomorrow.

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Friday, August 01, 2008


Lots of changes at hand for me these days has lots of thoughts swirling around my head, thought about the blog, about poker, and many about things totally unrelated to anything I write much about here. One decision has really crystalized for me this week, and those closest to me in our group will know it is something I've had on my mind for months, literally. In fact, it's a decision I had already finalized a couple of months ago until being talked out of it at the last minute by some fellow bloggers.

I'm not going to schedule Mondays at the Hoy for next month, or really anytime in the future as far as I'm concerned right now.

That's all. To me the whole thing is not a big deal for myself or for anyone else in the least, but for some reason some people thought it would matter if I did this, so I let myself get talked out of it for the past several weeks. But my heart is just not in it, if you can't tell from reading here. I don't really care about pimping it anymore, and I don't even really care about playing in it or reporting on it like I once did. So no more MATH for the time being, and this time it's for reals.

It's amazing to me to think about how much has changed over the past few years I've been involved in the whole poker blogging scene. Back when I first got into it, Wil Wheaton probably had as big a part as anybody in starting up the whole craze of private blogger tournaments when he ran his WWdN tournament every Tuesday night at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password as always was "monkey" lol). I remember with no problem at all how much I used to look forward to playing in that thing. It was literally the highlight of my week it seemed at the time. We're going back a good four years now, but that WWdN was literally the focus of my entire week back in the day. I loved getting together to play with all the bloggers for our one weekly get-together. It was the chance to chat, to catch up, to needle some friends and donk it up for fun. And honestly, I wouldn't have missed a WWdN for the world, as anyone who played in it regularly like me can attest to since I was always around.

I remember back then there were some other attempts to start up at least semi-regular online events for the bloggers -- Iggy did a couple, Jordan led the DADI events, and those were fun. Again, I remember not wanting to miss them. They were events, and just being a part of it gave me something to look forward to, something to aspire to play my best in, something to really want to win. Around that time the WPBT events also started up, the first regular leaderboard-based series of private blogger tournaments. These ran for a year and quickly turned into a slew of mixed poker games, limit, pot-limit and no-limit events, and they were both well attended and for me super fun. Back in those days, playing in every single one of these things really got me going, and I know I wasn't the only one.

But without focusing on the things that led to this point, suffice it to say that today, I no longer feel that way about the blonkaments, and they are a far cry from the singular outlets of fun for our entire community that they once were. I mean, I do love the Mookie, I always have. I can't really say why, other than to say that Mookie runs a great tournament, I love his hall of fame and his winner profiles on his blog, and Mookie is an all-around great guy which I have to say is rarer that it probably should be in this group. I am proud and happy to know that I have been a part of driving the popularity and the significance of the Mookie as the "new WWdN" for the next generation of poker bloggers, as it has been and still remains the one tournament to draw the largest crowds week in and week out, and is easily the closest thing we have to a tournament to look forward to every week, at least in my book. But other than the Mook, I just don't feel it for the private blogger events anymore like I once did. As I said, this post is not about why that is, rather than just that it is.

And before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, this post is in no way an attempt to degrade or put down the people involved with the regular weekly blogger tournaments. I'm one of those people, for crying out loud. By and large, the weekly tournament hosts (myself included, obv) are all pretty much the finest people available in poker bloggerdom, and I've had nothing but fun times playing in their events, chatting with them in the girly and offline. And I am by no means saying that I won't ever play any of their events again. Quite the contrary, I'm quite sure I will play them again several times. But it's been a while since the blonkaments have been the focus of my online poker play, as they basically had been for the better part of the past couple of years. It's just not what I look forward to anymore, it's not what I yearn to win and it's just not my focus these days anymore.

So no more MATH tournaments being set up for me. We had a great run. I started this thing up back when there were very few private blogger tournaments. The Mook was around, and I believe the WWdN was still in its dying stages as well. But there was no Riverchasers, there was no Donkament, there was no Big Game, there was no Skills Series. Heck, we weren't even playing the Bodonkey on that dominating poker site known as Bodog back then! At the time, I knew that Mondays at the Hoy was fulfilling a specific need and a significant demand among bloggers, myself very much included, and the participation in the event has always borne that out. I've enjoyed being a tournament host over time, I've loved setting up the different events, reporting on their outcomes, keeping the annual moneyboard, and of course being a part of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments in all its splendor through three separate tournament series. The people really wanted another private tournament outlet to play with the bloggers at the time, and the MATH stepped in and filled that need nicely, leading to the creation of several other regular private events on other days of the week, which for a long time was all good for the poker blogger community. Today, that need no longer exists, not with the bloggers at large, and to be honest not with myself now for many, many months.

So I'll still be around, business as usual, but I don't have any plans to host any more Mondays at the Hoy tournaments, on full tilt or otherwise. I wouldn't change a thing about the Hoy in the 2+ years I've been running it first on stars and then over on full tilt, but for me the tournament has clearly run its course and no longer fills a need that I know needed to be satiated for many of us a few years back. If you don't see me quite as much in most of the regular weekly events (sans the Mookie of course, which I feel compelled to continue donating to ad infinitum please), it's not a reflection of anything other than my diminished focus on the private blogger events, nothing more.

At the latest, you'll be seeing me next week in Le Mookie. Waffles really screwed me last week though, now the odds of him winning his prop bet with Bayne are back down to 12 to 1. I am looking for the guy to make it interesting early here so I can maybe book some more action in addition to the props I already have going with Bayne as well as IT. And of course there is always that prop bet that Mookie and I have for the remainder of 2008, but who remembers that one of us owes the other three months' worth of Mookie buyins if one of us wins the Mookie during the year, since neither one of us ever really comes close.

Have a great weekend everyone, back at ya next week as always.

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