Life Shouldn't Be A Fuckin' Grind

I will never be a poker pro, but my lifetime poker ledger is positive and I think that's something to be proud of.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Most Frustrating Tourney Ever

Well, I just got done playing a $10+1 on FullTilt that was one of the most frustrating I've ever experienced. Early on I called a min raise with 8c7c and flopped two pair and managed to get all-in against a guy with AA to double up. Then, I built my stack up to almost 5k by making good moves and flopping a couple of good hands that I didn't have to showdown.

Then, I made a donk move with the Ac5c when I decided I was going to LAG it up and open-raise from the CO, the BB re-raised me and I should have been smart enough to just fold then, but I called and the flop came something like 872 with one club. He had 990 left behind which was exactly how much was in the pot. He bet 300 and I decided to see if I could make a move on him and put him all-in. He called with QQ and I doubled him up. The whole hand was terrible, but I still had over 3k in chips and was doing fine.

Then, a few hands later I get AhKh in the BB. There's a couple limpers and the SB raises, I re-raise, one big stack limper calls and the SB goes all-in for just a couple hundred more. Both of us call and the flop come A94 rainbow. I immediately push all-in, the big stack folds and the all-in SB shows QQ. Well, the turn was a Q and I was down to 2500 or so. Not a terrible beat or anything, but a sick hand and a tough way to lose nonetheless. Then, 2 or 3 hands later I get QQ. There's a raise in front of me and I push all-in (I'd already decided earlier that I was going to play this tournament as aggressively as I could trying to accumulate chips) well, the big stack at the table pushes in over the top of me and everyone else folds. He flips up 33, flops a third 3 and I'm done.

All in all, one of the most frustrating experiences of my tournament career. I made one major mistake that cost me about 1500 chips, but the rest of it really wasn't my fault. I don't think I could have played those other major hands any better.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I was thinking a little bit about my game last night and in conjunction with a thread in General today about your biggest leaks I've come to a couple of conclusions about my NL game. The first is that it is leaky. I don't play very well after the flop, especially in situations where I've raised with a premium-ish holding pre-flop (AK, AQ, etc) and been called. I often lose my stack in tournaments when I flop top pair and someone else flops a set or two pair and I just can't seem to get away from these hands. I also haven't been doing very well in FullTilt SnG's for a couple of months and I think that the number of chips in play is making it a little more difficult for me. Especially when it gets to 3-handed I'm either taking chances where I shouldn't or playing too passively and letting myself get blinded down to where I have to push with a weakish hand and I get called and lose the race.

The bottom line is this: I think that I'm a very solid pre-flop player in NL. I know what hands are good hands to play, I know when to push, when to raise to steal, and I even sometimes re-steal successfully. All in all, I think I'm pretty solid pre-flop, which is a large reason for my success in Party SnG's last year. I also don't think I play the flop all that poorly. I'm fairly good at continuation betting and semi-bluff raising when necessary, and sometimes even sticking it in when I feel I have the advantage or a good draw and fold equity. The problem is that once it gets past the flop, I get lost and don't play nearly as well. If I bet the flop and get called, I often shut down, when firing another shell may have won me the pot, then when I do fire that next shell on the turn I run into a monster. So, I think that my NL game is solid pre-flop and to an extent on the flop, which allows me to do well in tournaments, but I'm very leaky on the later streets and that often causes me problems when the stacks are deep late in a SnG or MTT or in a NL cash game.

I also think that my shorthanded NL game could use a ton of work. Another reason why I'm having so much trouble late in SnG's and why I couldn't close the deal in the MTT that I finished 2nd in. When the stacks are deep enough that it's not push or fold, I'm finding myself having a ton of trouble with these shorthanded situations. So, if anyone has any advice on my NL leaks feel free to comment.

The good news is that I think my limit game is still pretty solid. I'm beating 2/4 for something like 2.8 BB/100 over my last 12k hands or so. I had to make a big withdrawal a few days ago so that I can cover my bills this month, but I've got a job now and even though it's gonna be 9-5 which will suck, it means I won't have to debit my poker account anymore for a while and I can get back to building a bankroll. Soon, I'm going to start playing six-max and trying to learn how to beat that game, then I'm going to move to 3/6 once I have 400 BB and if I can beat that game for a decent profit I'll move to 5/10 when I have 400 BB for that. My hope is to be playing 5/10 as my regular game sometime this summer and 10/20 by the end of the year. I really think this is attainable, but I guess the first step is getting my feet wet in six-max and trying to become comfortable with those marginal situations.

Finally, any FCP bloggers who are reading this, feel free to link me up to your blogs. I'm not sure how to do it or I'd add some FCPers to mine here. Maybe I'll sit down and try to figure it out someday soon.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Playing for a Living

I don't know if I've mentioned this on here or not, but Thank God for poker. Since I quit law school a few weeks ago I've been looking for a job and having very little success. If it wasn't for all the money I've made playing poker, I'd be in very hot water right now. As it is, I've got enough that I can take out enough to cover this month's bills and living expenses and still be bankrolled for 2/4. This month, I've known that profits would likely go toward's keeping myself afloat financially, and let me tell you it adds an element of pressure to the game. I haven't exactly had a great month of January on Party Poker so far, so I'm really hoping things start to pick up in my 2/4 games the rest of the month. I'm also hoping to get a job in the next couple of weeks so that I can start concentrating on improving my game, instead of concentrating on playing for money. There really is a lot more pressure when you're playing for money and still playing low enough limits that your hourly expectation isn't that great and downswings can really hurt. I've made it so far though, I'm sure I can survive until I find a job.

Tonight I went to the boat and had a huge night. I played 4/8 Hold'em for about 4 hours and won $178. I don't normally play 4/8, but it was what was open when I got there, so I decided to play it. Then, after the 4/8 table broke I played 3/6 for a 3.5 hours until they closed and won another $120 or so. In between I played a little 2/4 and about broke even. For some strange reason I haven't had success in my limited experience with live 2/4 and I think that part of it is that the stakes feel very low to me and I'm not sure I focus quite as well.

A couple of highlights and lowlights from tonight:

-My first hand at the 3/6 table I come in around the CO seat and find JJ, I raise and see a 5 or 6 handed flop of JTx. A lady in one of the blinds leads out and a couple of people call. I raise, then bet the turn and river picking up a couple of callers on each street and take down a monster pot with my set of Jacks against the flop bettor's QQ.

-I had pocket Aces 3 times tonight, Queen's twice and of course the set of Jacks. I also made a very good laydown when I flopped a set of Tens, but the board read JT98 on 4th street and King came on the river. I just knew the guy who bet into me had a straight and I laid it down, somebody else called and my read was confirmed when the bettor turned over Q3s. I didn't lose with AA or QQ, in my 5 times having them, but I did only get the blinds the 3rd time I had AA. The night was winding down and we were 3-handed at the 3/6 table and I raised UTG+1 and picked up the blinds, then laughed and showed my rockets to the table.

-The only real donkey play I feel like I made all night was when I raised in LP with 99 and got a few callers, the flop came 665 and everybody checked to me, so I bet and I got check/raised by a guy in MP. I should probably have gone ahead and laid it down there, but instead I called the flop, then proceeded to call the turn and river just so he could show me his 55. That cost me 20 bucks or 2.5 BB.

-At the 3/6 table I also made a pretty egregious error of board/hand reading. I raised in MP with KJs and got called by a few people. I then bet a flop of KQx and got called by I think 2 players. Then, the turn came another Q and for some reason I got scared and check/called when an older lady behind me (who actually was pretty decent by the standards of that table) bet. I was really fearing the Q and decided to check/calldown (in and of itself probably a poor decision on my part). Anyhow, the river was a T and it was just me and her left, I checked, she bet and I called expecting to be shown the third Q. Instead she turned over KT and for some reason I thought I was beat, I showed my KJ, and announced that that's what I had, said "nice hand" and turned it over and flipped it towards the dealer. He then pushed the pot her way and it wasn't til about 5 minutes later that I realized that that was actually my pot. We both had Kings and Queens, but she had a Ten kicker and I had a Jack. Now I'm not sure, but I really think the dealer should have said something. I don't really know the exact rules on that, but I figure I mostly screwed myself on that one. I'm not too angry about it, mostly because I had a winning session anyway and she was a nice lady, but I am pretty pissed at myself for fucking up like that I need to resolve to be even more careful in the future. At the casino I don't have the Party Poker computer to make sure that the pot goes to the correct person.

All in all though, I had a good time tonight and I made money, so I'm in a pretty good mood.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Maximizing winrate and expectation

One thing I've been thinking about a lot over the past few days is how best to maximize expectation and winrate. I've started to find that I have my best 2/4 sessions when I'm playing only 2 tables at a time. Now, I don't quite understand why there is such a jump for me from 2 to 3, but my biggest losing sessions have all come playing 3 0r more tables or 2/4. Obviously, the more tables, the more variance, but I also think there is an element of not always making the optimal decision when I have too many tables going at once. I'd obviously like to get to the point where I can play 3 or more tables of 2/4 effectively, since the more hands I can get in, the more I can make per hour, but right now I've estimated that I can get in about 120 hands per hour 2-tabling, so I think I'm going to stick to that for a while and see how it goes. I may move back up to 3 at some point down the road, but I don't see that day being very soon. Now, my ADD or whatever you want to call it won't let me play on just 2 tables at a time, so I've taken to playing a MTT and/or a SnG at the same time, sometimes 2 SnG's or 2 MTT's, for as many as 4 total tables and sometimes only one if I'm chatting on AIM or doing other things. I think this balance has me focusing optimally and generally playing my best.

In other news, I made my 4th career FullTilt final table tonight in the 9 pm $10+1 Tourney. I found AA 3 times in the early going to start building a stack and from there I nursed a medium to shortstack most of the way. I had one hand that hurt me near the bubble when I got another player all-in with my AK against his AQ and he hit a Q. But, I bounced back from that and had an important suckout of my own in the money. I was shortstacked and really needed to make a move so I pushed from EP with 78o and the BB called me with A9o, I hit an 8 and he didn't improve, which kept me alive quite nicely. I worked my way to the final table, and was about 6th in chips, but still fairly short. The final table pay structure was very steep, with 9th getting $98 or so and 1st getting over $1200, so I knew that playing to move up in money was less important than playing to build a stack. At any rate, a couple of hands into the FT I raised in MP with 88 and the chipleader put me all-in, I called and he showed AK, the flop blanked, but the turn was a K and my stay at the final table was shortlived. Still, I'm pretty happy with my play and I got $87 in profit for my efforts, so I certainly can't complain.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

7-card Stud

I played a couple hundred hands of 2/4 tonight and made about $120 bucks. So, I'm feeling a little better about my limit game. I've found that it seems like my optimum number of tables is two, with something else going at the same time. I might be able to handle 3 as well, but I seem to do best when I'm only playing 1 or 2 at a time. Maybe I'm concentrating better.

At any rate, I also played a 7-stud MTT on FullTilt tonight for $10 and it had 291 players including, Andy Bloch, Chris Ferguson, Jennifer Harman and David Oppenheim. I busted out in 50th after making a couple of questionable plays in the late going. I felt like I played a very good Tight/Aggressive tourney the whole way and mainly probably didn't get lucky when I needed to. On my last hand I started with 3JJ and my only opponent started with QJ8. For one, I can't believe he played that ridiculous hand, but he did draw out on me on 4th street and I just didn't feel like I really had enough chips left to lay it down, as I probably wasn't all that big of a dog. Thing is, I'm really not sure whether I should have laid it down or not, as he check/raised me and the laydown would have left me with only 1800 with the stakes at 400/800 and the ante at either 75 or 100, I would have had to make a stand soon anyway. I think that's what sucks the most about it for me. I'm not sure what the right play way. I really want to learn and get better at 7-stud now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Downswings are Fun...

Life's a bitch, what can I say. I've been downswinging for most of the last week or so. I had a -$350 night last week and decided to set a new stop loss rule for myself of 50 BB per session. I lose that and it's time to stop for a while. Well, after building back about half of what I lost in the down session, I gave almost all of it back last night and tonight. Last night I had a moderately losing session, then tonight I had a really bad one where just about everything went wrong and I lost the 50 BB. I came back later and played one table for a while and managed to make a nice little rally of about $80. So, that was nice, but I'm still stuck on the day and stuck for the month of January.

I'm not behind by a ton, but I am behind for the month so far and that's kinda scary. I haven't had a losing month since I've had Pokertracker and I don't intend to have one this month, but I have to admit that these first ten days have shaken my confidence some and hurt my bankroll, which is really bad news since I have no job at the moment and I'm probably going to have a make a sizable withdrawal at the end of the month to cover bills and expenses. I really hope to find a job soon and get back on the poker beam. I'm sure that I still have some leaks and holes in my game, since my BB/100 is down to 1.5 over 17.5k hands of 2/4. I'm a winning player yes, but not by as much as I should and could be and my hourly rate is even worse at a paltry 1 BB/hr, or about $4/hr. I could make that or more multi-tabling .5/1 if my winrate stayed up in the 4 BB range, which I think is probably possible at that level. So, I know I need to re-dedicate myself to studying poker and I also need to start playing six-max once I get a job, so I can learn how to better deal with marginal situations.

In other news, I also lost a nice little chunk of my FullTilt roll tonight. I played the 9 pm $10+1 MTT and couldn't really get much going and finally busted when my KK ran into AA. I played in several SnG's, 2 or 3 $10+1's and 1 $5.50 and couldn't manage to cash in any of them. I then played the 11 pm $10+1 and I played a pretty damn good tourney for most of the way and managed to cash, but I made a couple of poor plays that contributed to my demise. First, with only a few people left to the money I raised in the CO with T4o to steal the blinds and the BB moved in for only 600 more. I think the blinds were 200/400 with a 50 chip ante, so I was getting a ridiculously good price even with T4. I called and he had JJ. In hindsight I maybe should have laid it down, or just not attempted a blind steal in the first play. I'm not really sure, but what can ya do. That play certainly hurt my stack and I had and M of about 6 for most of the rest of the way, then came my bustout hand. I was in the BB and it was folded to the button who opened for 3x the BB (I think 1800 with blinds of 300/600 and 75 ante) I had Jd7d (one of my favorite silly hands) and decided to make a play at the pot, I figured there was a decent chance she was stealing and I might be able to push her off the hand since she had slightly less than me, but still enough chips to where she wasn't pot committed. So, I pushed and unfortunately she called with about the worst hand I could have been up against, AJ and that was it for me. I cashed for $14, but at least I cashed. I hadn't cashed in a while, so that should at least give me a little more confidence in my tourney game.

Hopefully my next post won't be so damn depressing.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2K5: A Year in Review

I came a long way playing poker in 2005. I started the year having never played online and I made a small $30 deposit on UB in January, foolishly thinking that I could build a bankroll from there. Of course, I didn't know what I was doing, had no concept of bankroll management and quickly lost it. I didn't deposit again until shortly after Spring Break in March.

Over Spring Break I had lost $200 playing Limit Hold'em on the riverboat and I decided to buy SSHE so I could learn to play limit. I read the book, but didn't fully digest it, and I deposited $100 on Party Poker, with a 50% deposit bonus available after 125 raked hands. My reading of SSHE hadn't gotten me to where I needed to be, because by the time I cleared the bonus playing .5/1 and 1/2 Hold'em I had lost $94. I now had $56 in my account and decided to play SnGs. I started out playing $5 SnG's and had enough success to build my a bankroll up and play $10's after a couple of months. By midsummer I had a bankroll of around $600 when I simultaneously decided to take a shot at $20 SnG's and I hit a downswing. I quit the $20's showing a small loss in them, but couldn't seem to regain my stride in the $10's either and my bankroll was bleeding away. It was around this same time in mid-July that I had also decided to quit the summer temp job I had and play SnG's until school started again. I had decided that if I played enough hours I could make enough to cover expenses. I was having trouble and the pressure was on so I decided to try a new site. I moved my money to Pokerstars and quickly lost another $100 or so on their SnG's. I decided then that I had nothing to lose by giving Limit another shot.

With less than $350 left in my total bankroll, about $250 of it on Stars and $75 on Party I started playing 1/2 and .5/1 limit on Pokerstars strictly following the tight game guidlines in SSHE. I made enough playing limit to cover my credit card bills (which I in turn used to cover August's rent) until I could get a new job and then later school started in mid-August. From there, I starting posting in and reading the Strat forums on FCP and I got Pokertracker through PSO and started building a bankroll. I've played on many sites this year and had success on most, but really only at the micro limits of LHE. According to Pokertracker, since late-August I've played approximately 42k hands of limit hold'em on Party Poker in 642 hours and made $2,272.81. I've also played limit on a few other sites that I don't have on PT, mostly with marginal success if at all, and mostly clearing bonuses.

There is one other part to this story. After getting fed up with Pokerstars, and I decided to move the $63.50 I had left on the site to FullTilt to play Tournaments and SnGs. I've had 3 final tables and one win since I've been playing on FTP. My first final table was a $5.50 MTT and I won about $100 for finishing 5th. My next one was my victory in a $10+1 with 299 entrants that paid about $750. Then, just a couple days ago I finished 2nd in a $5.50 of a little over 300 players for $280. I've of course given some of this money back in the form of other tournament buy-ins and NL cash games which I've found to be my biggest leak so far. But, the $750 score allowed me to buy nice Christmas presents for my family and all in all it's allowed me to continue to play Tournament style NL which I really enjoy and thik I'm fairly decent at.

This year I've cashed out $910 from online poker, which in and of itself is a nice little profit on my $100 investment. I still have quite a bit more than that to my name however. Here are my current balances as of the end of the year.

PartyPoker: $2281.10
FullTilt: $282.62
UltimateBet: $306.99
FullContactPoker: 85.54
Pokerstars: $11.20
Total: $2966.93

Adding $910 in withdrawals and subtracting $130 in deposits, including bonuses my 2005 online poker income has totaled - $3746.93. That's a damn good year for someone who didn't really start til almost four months and played micro limits for most of the year. I've just recently moved up to 2/4 and I hope to be playing 10/20 with 5 figures in poker income to report by the end of 2006.