Monday, April 16, 2007

$50 Encore Challenge - Success!

Yeah, so this isn't much to brag about in light of Hoy's success this weekend. So first things first, congrats to him for taking down his second Bracelet Race. Hopefully he tears it up in Vegas this year and doesn't have another WSOP champ brutally suck out on him again.

As I mentioned in my last post, for an encore from my online hiatus, I set a goal of running my measly bankroll up to $50 over the course of Friday night, as I needed some additional income to make an important purchase. I was going to play the wimpy little $1.25 SnGs and grind my way to my goal. Instead, I decided to go for a quick cash and start off with a $5 SnG and a $1.25 5-table SnG. I couldn't make anything happen with the $1.25 game, but I took down the $5 game. Bankroll: $24

I then started playing the $2.25 games, since it wasn't that much more of a buyin, but the 1st place paid double - $9. Out of 8 games I played, I took first in 4 of them, 2nd in 2, and out of the money on two others. $18 invested, about $46 made. By Sunday, my goal was complete, and I cashed out my $50, hence starting my hiatus from poker.

I arbitrarily determined that my hiatus would last 3 months, but I think I'll set it at 1 month for now. The first three weeks will be easy since I'll be on vacation, but once I get back, I'm going to jump back into it, for a couple of reasons. I've noticed improvement in my play, and I don't want to get rusty by sitting out too long. I'm also planning to finally hit up a couple of tournaments here in Seattle, and I would like to have some practice under my belt.

Also, it's easy to see that I'm no big balla, and I'm usually playing around with a bankroll of $50 at best. But after playing these $2.25 SnGs, especially the turbos, I'm more than confident I could spend a weekend playing nothing but those and easily double or triple my bankroll, and that's what I need to do. When I play larger games, the thought of losing the money enters my mind, and that's no way to play. When I do jump back in, I'll play nothing but $2.25 and the occasional $6.60 token games.

I'm still looking forward to taking a break though, as I do believe it's something everyone should do at some point. But I also think it's in my best interests to not stay away from too long. I'm just starting to get back in a groove, and I don't want to lose it.

Until then, good luck at the tables. See ya in a month.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The $50 Encore Challenge

I ran out of tokens. That means my 3-month hiatus starts. Or does it?

I won't discuss how I blew through my tokens in great detail. I ended up the $13k, $69 token tourney in 109\380 or so. I couldn't make anything happen - no action on my big pairs, pulled off a couple reraises to steal, but never got over 5500 (considering it was a double stack tourney, not too good. This was fine to start with, but when the blinds were escalating, I couldn't find a hand to push; either I was out of position with a crap hand, or in position with a pushable hand but already facing a raise or a push. I pushed the first hand in level 3 with KJ in the SB and ran into AJ. GG me.

I used the last token on a PLO tournament. Again, a DS tournament, I chipped up early to about 6800, then lost a bunch of chips when I chased am OESD & flush draw against trips. I went out about midway when I reraised with QQ on a KKJ flop, only to lose to a turned nut flush. At least I was correct in knowing I was ahead on that flop.


So the plan was to take a hiatus from online poker. Which I haven't. I cashed out most of my balance (which included a small profit), leaving $5.50 behind in case of emergency. However, I've been donking around with that $5.50 in the micro SnGs, and lo and behold I've doubled it up. The idea was that it was going to be for an emergency, and I think I finally found one:

My GF and I are going on a road trip to CA in a week, and I need an adapter for my CD player. It has an USB port for my iPod, but it scrambles all the songs and basically plays them in random. For $49.95, I can get an adapter that allows me to play directly from my iPod in the order that they're organized. Had I planned better, I could've saved about $15 and got one from eBay, but it's too late.

So, I'm starting the $50 Encore Challenge. I'm going to donk it up in the $1.25 SnGs tonight and see if I can earn that $50 for an adapter. Playing these SnGs reminds me of playing on Party Poker - the players are absolutely atrocious. Of course, this means two things:

1. You can overbet your hands and get their chips quickly
2. You also have to deal with getting sucked out on when they call your 88 push with QTo, stating that "they knew you were on a midpair". Wait, so you want to put all of your chips at risk when you know you're on the ass end of a coinflip? Awesome!

Anyways, so that's the challenge tonight. I might try to do some live blogging, in preparation for another gig I might have. More on that some other time.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Rollercoaster Known As The $26k (Or, How To Fall From Grace, And Fast!)

Played in my second $26k last night. Lots to talk about, let's dive right in:

Level 1

Drop down to T1125 after a couple of steals gone wrong and missed hands checked down. After two limpers, I raise about 4.5xBB to 175 from the small blind with Q7s. C-bet the 876 flop and take down the pot anyways. T1380.

In the BB with Q9h, I call a min raise to 100. I played a pot earlier against the same guy when he minraised. He played the board passively and showed 55, which was good against my KQ. Flop comes JcTd2c. He c-bets 100, I call. Turn is the 9d and I lead out for 150, thinking that my pair is good, he calls. River is 2d and he bets out 250. I call, he shows 77. T2005.

A bit later I get AQd UTG, so I raise 3x to 180. CO and BB call. Board is A33. I check. CO bets 300, BB pushes 1570 and I come over the top. His AJ is no good. T4240.

A couple hands later, some guy named Errick22 sits down and starts running over the table. He raises his first 6 hands, and the two times he gets action, he shows a set of 88s and QQ. He takes a hand off, but by the next hand, he's raising excessively, up to 18x the BB. I'm priming to set this guy up.

He limps the next hand and I check in the BB with KQd. Flop comes K62 rainbow, we all check. The turn is another 2, and I call his pot bet. A beautiful K falls on the river. The pot is about 700, and I act like I'm bluffing, overbetting all in. He calls with J2o, and I double up. T7880.

Very next hand, UTG+1 raises 3xBB to 240, the aggressive guy calls, I call from the SB with AKh. Flop is 8high, two hearts. UTG1 pushes for 875, E22 calls, and I think about pushing but elect to just call with the nut flush draw. I make my flush on the turn but can't get anything more from E22. The pot is mine...T10,190.

At the first break I'm sitting in 8th place overall. I couldn't be playing any better. I've gotten lucky when I need to, but I've also increased my stack by studying my opponents and maximizing my pots.

Level 2

Raise UTG to 300 with TT and call a push for 1100 more from the button. He has KK and no two outer for me. T8569.

Next hand, I call a min raise from UTG with A9h. Flop comes 9 high, two spades. UTG bets the pot, I call. Turn is an A, he leads out for 1300. I minraise to 2600, hoping he'll play back at me, but he elects to fold. T10,800

Call a raise with AQ but have to fold when I miss the flop.

Very next hand, raise an EP limper from the SB with A6o. BB smooth calls, limper folds. Flop comes T57, I try to take down the pot with a c-bet, but the BB calls. Turn is an A and the BB pushes. I read this as a steal and call - he shows KK. Could he have played this any worse?

After that hand, I'm at T15,400 and sitting in 1st with about 500 something to play. It's about this time that the wheels start to fall off.

Folds to me on the CO and I try to steal with J7h but the button calls. Flop comes AJ6, two clubs. I c-bet 800, but the button reraises. Have to fold this..T14,199. Mistake #1.

UTG, I raise up about 3.5xBB with 99 and get a call from the CO. Flop is K35. I lead out for 1\2 pot, he calls. We check the turn, and on the river I check call a 1200 bet. I called because, for some reason, I put him on a steal. Instead he flips over QQ for trips. T11,500. Mistake #2

VERY next hand, I get 77 in the BB. Same player from last hand raises it 3xBB. Flop comes Q94, all clubs. He bets out for 600 and I call. I have to check-fold his turn bet. T10,300. Mistake #3

I sit out until I'm UTG with 77 again. I decide to limp in for 200 with this when a shortstack goes all in for 1750. I figure it's a race situation and call - he shows AQ and hits a Q on the flop. I don't really consider this a mistake, but it still was a pretty decent loss. T7600.

I get some chips back when I catch the SB trying to steal. It folds to him and he min raises to 400. He had done this before, and each time I called then folded to his flop bet when I missed. I call with 96o this time with the idea that I'm going to play back at him. Flop comes T84, two spades. He bets out 400 and I call. Turn is a 5, and he checks. I bet 800, he calls. River is a K, no flush or straight draws. He checks again and I take down the pot with a 1400 bet. T9300.

I go card dead for about 12 hands before I pick up KJo in MP. It folds to me so I try to take the pot down. The CO reraises to 2800. I sense that he's not really that strong, as in recent hands, he's reraised in position then folded to a push. The only hands he's shown down are 33 (flopped a set) KQo (called a shortstack push) and QJo. I feel like he's making a move but I elect to fold. T8200.

Feeling like I need to tighten up, I fold QJc UTG+1, only to see the flop come 9cTc8d. Balls!

Then I really go card dead. Add that to the fact that I'm seated to the right of two big stacks, one of which is being pretty LAG, and I'm basically paralyzed. I go twenty-eight (spelling it out for emphasis) hands without anything playable. The best I had was A5d but out of position.

Level 3

I blind\ante down all the way to T4800 when I pick up AJo UTG+1. Everyone folds to my raise. T5900.

Get moved to another table and, about 10 hands in, I push A8 from the button. SB calls with 99 and IGHN. Finish about 130\1199 and about $40 cash.

Two weeks ago I would have been happy just to cash. Last night though, I was dejected for about two hours, knowing that I could have played better. I played well to a point, and granted I ran into some hands that I couldn't control, but I made some mistakes that I should have known better. These mistakes were the kind I would make before, the kind of mistakes that I know I shouldn't be making now:

Mistake #1: 99 vs QQ. I have no problem with the raise or the c-bet. With only one high card on the flop, I've got to find out where I'm at. But I have no business calling the river bet. Why did I put him on a steal? Because he played it so passively? If I had KQ, I would have played it the same way. I save myself 1200 in chips by folding.

Mistake #2 J7 steal. I'm fine with the raise - it folded to me, and I can't just keep raising my strong hands. But there's really no reason for me to c-bet that. This is a problem I need to fix - I don't always need to c-bet. I find myself always doing this when it folds to me and I raise preflop. I save another 800 in chips by check-folding.

Mistake #3 77 on a bad flop. Can't argue the call preflop, but I have no business just calling 600 on a Q94, all club flop. Either fold or check-raise, but don't call. I save another 600 by folding here.

I think I got too comfortable when I had the chip lead. It's not like I was playing like I had the game wrapped up, but I wasn't concentrating as well as I was before. Up until the chip lead, I was playing SO well, but I couldn't sustain it.

But that's not to say I don't take away anything positive. This was only the third big tournament I've played in since last May, and definitely the biggest I've ever played, and it's best I've finished in a long time. After going relatively deep, I'm a lot more confident in my game. Also, I was able to do this without hardly any premium hands - only AK once, AQ once (which I had to fold), and no pocket pairs above 99. I got as far as I did playing aggressive & smart, mixing in some deceptiveness in there. However, last night was the first time in a while that I've had to go more than two hours in a game, and I'm treating last night as a lesson that I need to work on sustaining a solid game the entire time.

Things I Learned Yesterday

1. Razz freerolls on FTP are both highly entertaining & infuriating as well. Among the horrible plays I saw were:

Players continually calling completion bets with face cards showing
Someone raising on 7th street showing AKJT (those T-highs sure are monsters!)
Someone four-betting me with J8 showing when I'm showing 67 (with A2 underneath).

Of course, this is razz, and I donked a couple of hands to, but that last one was brutal. I was shortstacked, and with 67T(A2) and everyone capping it, I knew this was my best chance to get my money in. But the last two cards were 6A, and I end up losing to 87432. Oh well, who cares - I got some razz practice, which is more important than fighting it out for a couple of hours to win $15.

2. Linking up other bloggers to your previously unknown blog will get you some comments.

How does that work? I've been linked up before, and the only way I found out was to actually visit that person's blog. Keep in mind, I'm still relatively new to using Blogger, but it looks like I'm missing something here.

Anyways, thanks to all those that commented yesterday. I've adjusted my blogroll to account for everyone, and I'm sure I'll have more additions down the road. I'm glad some of you were able to appreciate my post - it makes it feel just a little bit less ghey.

3. I'm a better poker player today than I was yesterday.

Just finished HOH1 last night. Can't really say I learned anything completely new last night, but it did help me understand that I need to be more disciplined at the table. I've found that my style of play the past couple of months has been the result of a couple of principles:

1. I haven't made a concerted effort to understand the style of others at my table, which in turn...

2. I find myself making -EV plays by either folding when I should be calling OR reraising, or trying to run over the table when I should be folding, which is part of the bigger notion of...

3. I try to make moves when I'm only in level one thinking. I'm simply playing my cards, only winning when I'm getting paid off on monster hands. This isn't to say that I'm NOT capable of running some dirty bluffs at key times, but I'm often playing with less regard to position and flop context than I should be.

Anyways, despite the desire to get back into online poker, especially with the announcement of the Battle Of The Blogger Tournaments, I'm still planning to take at least a 3 month hiatus soon. I won't be at the Mookie tonight, but I do plan on playing the $26k Guaranteed tonight, so I'll at least stop by and check out the game.

Good luck everyone, and go play the Mookie tonight!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Blog Roll Call (Or, Who Wants Some Linkage?)

No poker last night. I was looking to play the $26k guaranteed or maybe jump into the inaugural MATH on Full Tilt, but I just didn't get around to it.

This post is more about particular blogs that I read. The blogs that I have linked on my page aren't necessarily the blogs that I read daily. I started off linking those blogs, but after a while, I just didn't like that idea. So instead, the blogs I link are either those of people who have commented on my blog or people who've asked or requested it. Or in the case of wwonka, in honor of being the first person I ever knocked out of a blogger game.

This is kind of a hi-jack from one of Mookie's profile questions but I feel like it's worthy of a decent post anyways.

First Ever Blogs

Seattle John - this was the first poker blog I ever started reading. I discovered his blog by Googling "Seattle Poker". I still stop by his blog pretty frequently but his blog reads more like a journal than anything else.

Doubleas - the first blog I ever read extensively. Most of the other blogs I've encountered since I found on his page. I discovered his blog about a year ago, around the same time my work productivity started dipping. Going through his archives, it was amazing to see the progress from small limit n00b to the accomplished player he is now.

Tao Of Poker - the man, the myth, the legend. Needs no explanation.

Fuel55 - the first blog I ever subscribed to. Although his blog wasn't helpful to start with, as I wasn't trying to learn how to play $3\$6 NL, his hand histories and tournament analysis have always been informational, even if they are boastful. I would like to see more humble posts, maybe some posts of plays that went wrong, but I doubt he'd ever admit to that.

Wicked Chops Poker - I basically just go here for the girls.

Hoyazo - Admittedly, I read his blog more than any others, for a couple of reasons. First, when he was still doing them, I found his Hot Hand posts extremely helpful. Secondly, he had a style of writing that is both entertaining and comfortable. I've probably posted more comments on his blog more than any others, mostly because his blog seems more open to comments from new people more than any other blog. Thirdly, his blog seems to create more discussion about hands than anyone else. I'm constantly looking to learn and discuss poker strategy, and there's few other blogs that accomodate discussion from such a wide range of opinions. Finally, his blog has links to a lot of other blogs that I read. I could just link them on my blog, and you figure that would make the most sense, but because I know I'm going to read Hoy's blog every day, I just use his instead. It's through his blog that I've discovered many other blogs that I read daily.

Blogs I Discovered Through Hoyazo

Waffles - Probably won't find a funnier poker blog. If I ever win a Mookie, Waffles is definitely one of the invitees to the guest table. Hell, I'll answer the question right now: My 6 man table would be me, Waffles, Fuel55, Tony G, Matusow, and Hellmuth. I'll just sit back and blind away, watching the fireworks explode while Fuel yells "FAWK!" every 5 minutes. That's entertainment!

Smokkee, Lucko, and Chad - more blogs from successful mid-stakes players. The times they do post strategy information is always valuable.

Mookie - host of the only blogger game that I've played (I'm not counting BloggerPods, although I suppose I should since I cashed in it). With all due respect to Al, Hoy, CC, Miami Don, etc...I don't think there's a better produced blogger game than Mookie's. The effort that Mookie puts into this goes beyond setting up the game each week; you've got the live blogging (I feel everyone should live blog the Mook at least once so that they can understand how difficult it can be), the weekly profiles, the bounties, etc...and only for $11. How can you top that?

TripJax, HighOnPoker, jjok, absinthetics - I visit these blogs daily, mostly for entertainment value. Jordan's isn't necessarily as humorous as the others usually are, but I find his Salami game recaps and AC trip recaps just as entertaining.

AlCantHang - I go here for the same reason everyone else goes here - because we can get NSFW pics without having to worry about Googling them ourselves.

These blogs make up most of my daily reading. I don't read as many blogs daily as others might, for a couple of reasons:

1. Most other blogs don't seem to post as often
2. Many other blogs are blocked from my workplace

But, there's still a handful of blogs that I've discovered that I still frequent, just not as often:

Schaubs - I started playing the blogger games around the same time he has, although he has been much more active (and successful) than I have. I envy live vicariously through his n00b success.

Kid Dynamite - with the exception of Pauly, it's tough to find more entertaining Vegas recaps than his.

Iakaris - I just don't always have the concentration to figure out what he's saying, not because I don't understand it, but after reading blogs like these guys, and then jumping to his, it can make one's head hurt. But I'm always a sucker for excellent prose, and Iak's blog is like getting your poker blog fix and your daily vocab word all at once.

Iggy - most would consider it blasphemous that he's listed so low, but I should clarify that this list isn't a ranking list. But I haven't read his blog as much, mostly for two reasons:

1. Once again, I couldn't access his blog when it wasn't on Blogspot
2. Most of his recent postings had very little to do with poker strategy or hand analysis, and this was the biggest reason I started reading blogs.

But, as I've started to expand my list of blogs, I've quickly discovered why he is a God among men (but apparently, a very tiny God).

I posted this for a couple of reasons. One, I read blogs like the one's I've mentioned, and then I look at my blog and see what a miserable, uninspiring blog this really is. I'm surprised I even get comments anymore because I'm amazed there are people still awake by the time they get to the end. I'm not trying to be intentionally self-depricating, but it's apparent that my blog is sufficiently sub-standard, and that I really should be putting more effort into it.

Two, I'm interested in suggestions on other blogs that I should be reading more often. Granted, there are several other blogs that I didn't mention that I've read before, many times even, but they haven't stuck out in my mind as much as these have. I'm going to go ahead and update my blog roll with the blogs I've mentioned, but if anyone has any other suggestions, I'm interested. Let me know what I'm missing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Token Upgrade

There isn't any rhyme or reason to how I'm using my last couple of tokens. The idea was to use them all on tournaments, but I guess the itch got to me again, and I decided to instead use on on a Tier 2, two table SnG, with the top 5 getting $75 tokens, and approx $50 cash to 6th place. I've got a couple of hours to kill with a 33% chance (not accounting for skill) of winning something, so I hop in.

I lost some of my stack early when I checked in the BB with 4 limpers holding KQd. Flop comes AK4. SB bets 40, I call, everyone else folds. Turn is an 8, check-check. River is an 8 and he bets out 200. I figure him for a steal and call, he flips over A6.

A couple hands later I have Q5 in the BB and it checks to me. Flop comes Q43 and I lead out for 100. MP limper raises to 650 and I let it go. Drops me down to about T960.

Steal some blinds to get back up to around the starting stack, then I get moved to another table. A couple of hands in and I get A6h in the BB. A big stack min-raises from UTG (table is shorthanded at about 6 right now) and I call. Flop comes J98, two hearts. He bets 3\4 pot, I push, he folds.

I notice this guy keeps raising nearly every hand, and when someone pushed on him with AQ, he calles with 74h. No suckout for him, and he starts pushing every hand. I wait for my chance, which happens to be 99 in the small blind. Oddly, on this hand he just limps UTG. Normally, I'd just limp call with this, afraid that he's changed his style now that he has a monster, but I'm trying to be more aggressive. Plus, I have him covered, and I don't put him on a monster but rather limping to see a flop, so I raise it to 600. He pushes for 600 more, I call, and I have him dominated with 99 vs 96s. This puts me up to around T3200.

Sitting in 2nd place, we drop down to one table shortly thereafter. I hold my ground and steal some blinds when I wake up with AA in MP. UTG and +1 limp for 200, I repop to 1000. Only UTG calls. Flop is TOO perfect: A66. We check the flop and turn, river completes a flush. He moves all in and his bluff with Q9c is no good.

We get down to the bubble (money bubble, not token bubble) and play tightens up. I use my stack to steal some blinds and keep the short stacks short. Right after the first break, a player named "thorro" moves in UTG for 1800. Next to act, I call with QQ and it holds up. We keep going until a shortstack moves in for 540 at the 200\400 level. We get four callers, and I take out his QQ with 44 on an AK8K4 board.

So I'm still sitting on 3 tokens, but now one is a $75 token. I'm hoping to use these within the next week or so. In the event that I'm actually able to score some decent cash, I'd like to withdraw it in time to use for my upcoming vacation to Monterey Bay, CA. Wish me luck...