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.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Tourneys

Last night being my Saturday for all intents and purposes, I decided to use one of my $26 tokens on FullTilt to play in the 16k at 10 pm. It didn't go well. I donked out in the first level on two pretty crummy plays. I then dropped about another $40 when I couldn't cash in a SnG in several attempts. Mostly in $5.50's, but I had either one or two $10+1's in there too. That was the bad news.

The good news was that I'd also decided to try out PartyPoker's new MTT structure by entering the nightly 40k guarantee. The starting stack was 3k and I had 15k at the first break. I played well and ran well for over 4 hours getting deeper than I'd ever been before in a tournament with that many players. I made it to the final three tables with a very nice stack of about 550k, then lost about half my stack when my steals got re-raised. Then, with about 15 left I had 260k and raised to 60k in EP with 66, blinds were 10k/20k with a 500 ante and about to go up to 15k/30k with 700 antes. The button pushed for 170k total and I called. He showed AJo, but flopped a Jack and I was down to 98k. The very next hand the blinds went up and I was in the BB so I had 30k in the pot and 68k behind. Two players got all-in and I had 75o. I decided to fold, but in hindsight, I think the pot odds probably warranted a call there. I'm likely up against high cards of overpairs, making me somewhere around 3-3.5-1 to win. But, I had a chance to triple up and I already had 1/3 of my stack in the pot. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and part of it may be that after looking at the board I realized that I would have won with a straight if I'd stayed in. Anyway, the next hand one big stack limped and I pushed from the small blind with QTo and he called with A-high to beat me.

2240 players entered the tournament and I went out in 15th cashing $313 for my efforts, which isn't too shabby for a $22 buy-in, but it still sucked to get that close to the final table and a chance at some real cash. Still, I won enough that I can make 2/4 six-max my regular game from now on. I've decided that I will play that until I have 400 -500 BB for 3/6, then move up...provided my winrate is good enough at 2/4 6. From there I plan to move up whenever I have 4-500 BB for a level and I've done well enough at the previous level of six-max.

After that was over, I watched Zimmer4141 of FCP cash almost 20k in the Super Thursday tourney. It was fun to watch, but it sure made my $300 score feel insignificant. I was proud of Zimmer though. It was great to see him finally break through for a huge score in a big MTT. Hopefully one day I'll have the bankroll and balls to play tourneys that big.

I want to thank Actuary, if he reads this, for railing me most of the way in the Tourney. It was great having someone on the rail to talk to about hands. I also should throw out thanks to a buddy of mine who doesn't follow the blog or FCP, but who also railed me via AIM for the last hour or so. I also want to post a funny comment he made during our IM conversation. "I bet a lot of people think guys who stay up all night playing computer poker are sad, but I think people like me, who stay up all night on the computer to get highlights from their buddy's poker game are even worse." Despite being sad though, he stayed on the rail until I busted and I really appreciate that support.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Damn Forum

With FCP down right now, my internet travels are much more limited. I wish they'd get the forum back up.

I'm thinking about taking an impromptu trip to Vegas tonight and coming home on the red-eye tomorrow. I work for an airline now and could fly for free. I don't know if I really have the energy or drive to make the trip right now though.

I've won 2 $26 tokens on FullTilt this week in 2 token satellites, so that's kind of exciting. I'll get to play a couple of the $26 tournaments in the coming weeks. I also had a good session of 1/2 6-max last night, which will be home for a few weeks as I grind my bankroll up to where I can feel comfortable playing 2/4 six-max on a regular basis.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Donktastic Home Game Fun...

I haven't played much poker to speak of online this week. Just haven't had the time energy or drive to really concentrate on it. Tonight though, I played a series of home tourneys with some of my new work colleagues. We played three $5 buy-in tournaments, the first with 10 players, which I won and the second and third with 11 and 9 players respectively, both of which I took bad beats in.

The blind structure was kind of silly with everyone starting with something like 1700 in chips, with blinds of 5/10, but the blinds then doubling every time someone went out. In the first game I lost some chips early when I bet strongly with my QT on a ten-high flop, then folded to an all-in when I thought I was probably beat on the river. From there I played pretty tight and changed gears well when the blinds started getting really high in relation to my stack. At one point I went all-in from the BB without looking at my cards and ended up with a straight with 68o. I think at that point the BB represented a little less than half my stack so I felt like it was pretty much mandatory. From there I changed gears well, played my shortstack aggressively, and got lucky in a couple key pots. I made it to heads-up, and with the blinds at an absolutely ridiculous 800/1600 with only about 12-13k chips in play, it became an all-in fest. After a seesaw battle, that saw me getting very short and going all-in in the dark only to find 99 and have it hold up, then after regaining a very slight chip lead after a bit more back and forth, I pushed with Th9h and got called by 44, the flop and turn were blanks, and it looked like I was done, but the river was a Ten and I had won. I feel pretty good about the way I played that game, it certainly wasn't all skill, I did get lucky in some key pots, but I also played my stack well and managed to take it down.

In the 2nd two games I wasn't nearly so lucky. First I raised with AQo and narrowed the field to 4 players I think. The flop came down QT8 rainbow and the kid to my right went all-in. He hadn't played the first game and I had no read on him, so I couldn't fold top pair and I went all-in after him. Then, the guy to my left called also. They showed K8 and J8 respectively and I was way ahead, then the turn came a 9 and I was drawing dead. After that hand, I still had a few chips left and found AKo the very next hand. I pushed all-in of course and got called by like 3 or 4 people. Found no help on the board and was eliminated when J9 caught two pair. In the next game I had raised pre-flop with KcJc and the flop came JsQcAc, a guy in front of me bet and I moved all-in with 17 outs and a 58% chance of winning according to cardplayer's odds calculator. Of course, his Ah9h held up when neither the turn nor river brought one of my many outs and I was gone from that one.

All in all though, I had a good time and left about $20 richer than I walked in. It was one of the most donktastic groups I've ever played cards with. Even the "decent" players were pretty bad. No one ever folded. They didn't know that the dealer is always small blind heads-up and I eventually lost that argument later on in the night (though I managed to work it that way when I was playing heads-up). They also analyzed hands in very flawed ways throughout the night. If only they played for higher stakes and had a better blind structure, I could quit my day job :).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Almost Rule

I guess 3rd place isn't too bad of a score.

I just got through playing a $10+1 on FCP. I played a very solid tourney and got lucky in a couple key places...something that of course needs to happen in order to go deep in any tourney. The most memorable was when the button raised my BB and I had A2s and decided that I could get her to fold by raising all-in. I probably could have if he was on the steal I put him on. He instead called and flipped up QQ and I sucked out to accumulate a nice mess of chips. From there I played good solid poker, and made it to the final table 2nd in chips. Unfortunately, I drew a bad seat at the Final Table with the Chipleader directly to my left.

At the final table I couldn't seem to get much of anything going. The most memorable hand was when I raised in EP with AQo and the SB went all-in for about 1500 more. Of course I had to call, but he had KK and there was nothing I could do about it. I played that hand fine though, just didn't catch the breaks I needed to and finally busted out 3rd when I was shortstacked and pushed on the button with K8, the BB called with KQ and that was all she wrote. I took home $373 for my efforst though, which is a pretty good score and my biggest since I won the tourney on FullTilt a couple months ago.

I also had a semi-successful session of 1/2 6-max today. I won money overall, but I'm not sure I played all that great. I think part of it is that I may be pushing too hard after the flop when I raise pre-flop and don't hit. I seem to find myself reverse-dominated an awful lot in 6-max, so I guess I need to work on not being too over-aggressive. I have gotten to where I'm at a little over 3 BB/100 over a few more than 1k hands of 1/2 six, so hopefully I'm on the right track there.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Poker Can be Sooo Frustrating

I think I have a love/hate relationship with variance. I want to stress that I actually won money tonight, but boy could I have made out like a bandit if a few breaks had gone my way. I played a little over 100 hands of 1/2 six-max and for the first time in quite a while I won money at 6-max, it wasn't a huge win...only about 6 big bets, but it gives me confidence that maybe I can beat that game. I think I should still do some more reading when I can get the time and energy, but I believe that I do have the ability to beat the game. I also played some 2/4 and was kind of up and down, I think I ended a little up, but I'm not sure. I had one hand where a I limped with 77 on the button after several players had already limped. The flop came 7A3 with 3 diamonds everyone checked and I bet, 2 players called. The turn was a 3 and it was checked to me, of course I bet my boat and got one caller this time. The river was a blank and my opponent check/raised me and we ended up capping it...he flipped up Aces. If it hadn't been for that hand I would have walked away a big winner on the it was I think I lost a few bucks at the 2/4 tables, but all told I didn't play badly, but I did have to quit pretty abruptly.

I think I've found the best way to curb tilt. When something really bad happens and you get angry or lose a little control, just shutdown online poker for a bit (or the rest of the night). What happened tonight was a pretty unfortunate showing the 6pm $5.50 on FullTilt. My Tourney bankroll has been backsliding of late as I've been pretty unsucessful in SnG's and haven't had any major MTT cashes in a while. Case in point, tonight I didn't cash in 3 SnG's, all of which were due to a combination of less than stellar play and kinda shitty cards/luck. I didn't get sucked out on, but I didn't find many hands either and when I did find one I usually ran up against a better one. Anyway, on to the Tourney. I was playing well, shortstacked most of the way, but managed to hit a nice little rush When I raised with J8s in MP and flopped a str8 to double up, then picked up AQs and busted a player on the very next hand, then picked up the blinds with JJ on the hand after that. From there I played good solid poker and I was cruising until I got moved to a new table with a slightly bigger stack 3 to my left. I felt like once again I'd drawn a kind of shitty position, but I had no intention of letting it kill. Then, the following sequence of hands happened...

First, I picked up the blinds with AT, then the very next hand with about 17k in chips, I'm dealt AJo in EP2 or so and I raise it up to 900 (blinds are 150/300 with 50 ante), one guy behind me calls and we see a flop of 89x heads-up. The pot is about 3k or so and he has somewhere around that much left. I bet out 1800 and he raises all-in...I decided that unless he's caught a set (which is possible, though not necessarily probabl) I'm probably getting the right odds since it's only going to cost me about 1200 to win 5500. He flips up QJo and I'm in great shape, til the turn that was a T and he wins the pot to double through. Then a couple of hands later I'm dealt AsKs in the BB. one guy limps and the guy with more chips than me raises the pot to about 2600 or so (blinds are up to 200/400), I figure that he wouldn't raise that much with AA or KK and I decide to push to give myself fold equity against what is likely something like a pair of Jacks. Of course, he insta-calls and shows KK, I don't improve and I'm done in 51st place...just shy of the money once again. Of course, it's not like I was playing for the 6 bucks that 36th got, I was playing for the final table, but it still sucks hard to come that close to cashing and miss. I won't say I played those two hands great, but I also don't think I played them that badly. If I don't get sucked out on with my AJ I have something like 20k in chips and I probably wouldn't have put so many chips on the AKs. But, the combination of semi-tilt from that bad beat and losing chips (even though I still had plenty if I was just playing for the money) caused me to gamble more than I probably should have on just an AK. Oh well, that's tournament poker.

In bankroll news, it's looking like I'm gonna have to take a break from MTT's for a while and build my roll back up a little. I'm down to about $100 on FullTilt and I'll probably try to build that back up to at least $150 playing $5 and maybe $10 SnG's before I play anymore MTT's. I also made what I hope will be my last withdrawal to pay bills from Party today, so I'm back down to $1350 which is probably the lowest my bankroll has been since I started consistently winning at 2/4 at the end of November. Of course, I've now taken out over $1200 since that time so I guess that's means I've done ok for myself. I'm gonna try to rebuild playing mostly 1/2 six-max so that I can try to get better at shorthanded play, then when I hit $1800 I plan to start taking a serious run at 3/6.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I'm a Stud!

I hadn't played poker at all today or yesterday and even though I'm pretty tired I wanted to play a little bit before I went to bed, so I just got done playing a 15 minute 7-stud session on FCP. I played .5/1 Stud and ended $16.20 winner. That's by far the most I've ever won at that game and actually it may be the only time I've ever ended a session of it winner. The table was filled with weak/tighties and passive donks and I hit a couple of really nice river cards. On the last card, one guy had called the bring in and I was last to act with 8J8, I decided to play the hand and play it for a raise, so I made it .50 and both players called (we had a pot of 2.20). Fourth street was a blank for all of us and I bet and the limper folded, but the bring-in called me. Fifth street was another blank, but gave him a highish card like a K, I bet again and he called (pot was $5). 6th brought me another blank and gave him my eight, he checked and I decided to check behind, I think by this point I had a gutshot to go along with my pair of 8's that I thought may even have been good at that point. Then, the river gave me two pair, 8's and 6's, he checked, I bet for value and he called and mucked. I felt like I played the hand pretty well and got a bit lucky on the end. Not sure whether I needed that two pair or not, but I really like the way I played the hand.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Update on Poker and Life

I feel like I should update this thing since I haven't in a while.

I started a job last week, so I've been playing a lot less poker lately. I'm in training right now to work the phones for Delta Airlines in the reservations department. It's not a great job, nor does it pay great, but it should pay my bills for the time being while I figure out what it is I actually want to do with my life.

I had to take a fairly good-sized withdrawal from my Party roll to pay my bills at the end of January, but with my latest $100 bonus I'm back up to a little over $1600, which is 400 BB for the game I play right now, so I'm in decent shape bankroll-wise. I also have some money on FullTilt and Full Contact for Tournament play. I'm kinda hoping that I won't have to take any money out of Party for a little while and I can take a shot at 3/6 when I get to 1800. I may try to figure out how to play 6-max successfully first though. For some reason I've never been able to play shorthanded limit well, and I think a big part of it is that the key really is controlled aggression and knowing when to back off and when to calldown with 2nd or even 3rd pair. These are things I've yet to master. I've learned how to beat up on donkeys and value-bet the hell out of my strong hands and even some of the more marginal ones. But I've yet to figure out how to play shorthanded and I think I'm probably going to need to in order to take my game to the next level. I really ought to take some time to finish reading HPFAP and SS2's limit section, but I don't know if I'll have the discipline to do that.

In actual playing news, today I won a $10+1 SnG on FullTilt and won a $5.50 HORSE SnG. I found the HORSE SnG to be remarkably donkified and I may play a few more of them in an effort to work on my play in those other games. I also played a $5.50 NL MTT and was cruising with a decent chipstack of around 4k right before the break, when things went to hell. First I raised in EP with TT and got called by the player directly to my left. I hadn't seen her do anything so far, so I really had no idea what she was capable of. We saw a flop of 8xJ HU and I bet out 350 and she insta raised to 700. At this point I really had no idea where I was in the hand, but decided to peel anyway. The turn card was an Ace, about as bad a card as I could think of and I felt completely lost. I finally decided to bet out 1k and she again immediately raised to 2k. I couldn't put her on a hand, but I couldn't think of anything she was logically playing that I could beat and figured it was going to eventually cost me all my chips to find out whether or not she was bluffing. I finally decided to fold and she showed the bluff KcQc. I'm still not sure what I could have done differently in the hand, a read would have been nice, but without one, it's a tough hand not to laydown. In fact, I probably only could have lost less by maybe not peeling the flop even or check/folding the turn.

At any rate, at that point I was down to 2k, but not out as the blinds were still only 50/100. A couple of hands later I picked up 99 and made it 350 to go. I got called by a shorter stack who'd been gambling a bit and was possibly on tilt a little. The flop came T2T and he pushed his last 700 or so in. I insta-called and he showed A2. Of course, the turn was an Ace and I was down to my last 1k. I went broke on the last hand before the break when an MP player made it 250 to go and I was in the BB, I found A3 and decided I didn't want to sit through the break only to be ultra-short when I came back, so I jammed. He called with AT and that was the end of my Tourney. Such is the nature of tournament poker. I played well for a while, but after that one big hand, things just went south. Of course, if I win that pot against the shortstack I'm back up to 3k and probably go much deeper, but bad beats happen and I accept that as a part of poker.