Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fantasy Football Weeks 11 & 12

I don't have much to talk about poker wise, so let's talk about FF for a second.

I mentioned it briefly in my last post, but I'm officially on a losing streak. I'm still in first by 1 game, with a game next week against the second place team, so I'm in a crucial part of the season. With 5 games left, victories in my next two weeks may clinch first place for me. Anyways, here's an abridged version of the recaps from the past two weeks:

Week 11

I went up against Tom Brady this week and almost came away with a victory. Had I made a couple of coaching changes, like starting Ben Watson or Derek Anderson instead of Heath Miller or Peyton Manning, I would have been victorious. But, I started what I thought was my best possible lineup and it just wasn't meant to be. I learned a long time ago that there's no sense in getting frustrated when you start a team that's won 8 straight then loses one against a team with the top fantasy performer. I wasn't expecting to go 16-1, so I don't have a problem with this loss.

Week 12

Here's where I may have screwed up. I started overthinking my lineup and made some hasty choices.

First, I was without Marshawn Lynch last week, so I had to find a replacement. I picked up Maurice Morris as a Free Agent, and I thought that he was going to have a good week against the Rams. I know Seattle's been throwing the ball a lot more but Morris has put up decent numbers despite that, and against a weaker Rams team, I thought he could do the same. But I also had Joey Galloway on my bench going against a poor Redskins defense, and he's been on fire lately. So, without a clear cut replacement, I played my first 3 wideout lineup.

Secondly, I had to choose between Manning & Anderson. The past two games for Manning had been subpar but he was going up against a struggling Atlanta team. Anderson has been consistent, was the higher ranked QB, and was at home at against Houston. Atlanta was worse against the run than the pass, and with Harrison out, I figured that Addai would get the bulk of the offense against Atlanta, so I went with Anderson instead. Anderson still had a decent game, but Manning would've given me about 5 more points, almost enough for the victory.

Lastly, I made a quick lineup change on Saturday night. First, I started Ben Watson over Heath Miller. I felt that Watson had a better matchup and a better chance to get more catches. This worked in my favor - I don't even think Miller played - but it was only about 2 points. The other move was that I started Morris over Westbrook. It obviously was a bad choice since Westbrook had almost twice as many points. I figured with Feeley at QB against the Patriots that Westbrook would be a non-factor. The Patriots have been only average against the run but I didn't think that the Eagles would be able to move the ball as well as they did. However, it wasn't this move that gave me my loss.

Instead, the best move would have been to start Morris, Westbrook, Wayne & Johnson, leaving Galloway on my bench. Once again, I was burned by Galloway & his 2 catch, 21 yard day. Starting Morris for Westbrook meant I lost by 9 instead of by 2, but keeping Galloway in instead of either running back (or Earnest Graham) was at worst a 12 point deduction against me. I got duped by Galloway and broke one of the cardinal rules of Fantasy Football - always go with the running back. The only time when you should start 3 WRs is when you either don't have a 2nd RB to start PERIOD, or you've got three stud WRs who are producing every week. This situation was neither, and my decision cost me big time.

Other Thoughts

Going into this week, I have some tough choices to make again. Anderson goes up against a weak Cardinals D that just lost their top secondary player, while the Colts have a tough game against Jacksonville. I think Anderson is the right start here. Lynch is also most likely out, so I need to decide between Morris against Philly or Graham against NO. I'm leaning towards Graham since Seattle throws so much now, plus Alexander might be back. Tampa might have to rely on the running game more with Garcia possibly out.

The other tough decision is with my defense. Green Bay is on the road against Dallas, so they'll stay on my bench. Seattle looks like a decent play against Philly, but the Eagles actually look stronger with Feeley. If McNabb plays, I like this matchup more. I could also look to the waiver wire, but there aren't any great choices there either. I will probably have to roll with Seattle and just hope they don't cost me points.

The last decision I have to make is an easy one. I can guarantee you Joey Galloway will not start a game for me the rest of the season. I'm almost tempted to waive him outright in the hopes that someone picks him up and had to deal with him. Of course, the moment I waive him will be the moment he explodes for the rest of the season. But barring injury, I'm rolling with Wayne & A. Johnson at WR, no one else.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bits & Pieces

I wish I had more to talk about after being away from my blog, or any blog for that matter, for the past couple of days, but I haven't played much poker since Wednesday either. But that's never stopped a poker blogger from his\her duties before, so why should it now?

First, thanks to all that commented on my last couple of posts. I rarely find enough hands at these $5 stakes that make me pause & think about my game, so I'm glad I was able to get some good discussion in, even if it was about how I misplayed my hand. I'd rather talk about the hands that I played wrong then spend time bragging about hands that I won or big pots that I sucked out on.

I didn't have any school on Wednesday so I was able to donk around in the Mook and somehow found my way to the final table. Wasn't anything fancy - just lucky enough to get KK against QQ, then AA against a shorty's AQ & someone else's KK to propel my stack. From there it was just stealin & stealin some more. Resucked against a shorty with 88 against A7 - he flops trips, I river a boat, and that kept me in the top 4 for most of the pre-bubble\bubble period.

I was in 4th place at the start of the final table when I get JJ UTG on the first hand. Raise it up as I should when LJ pushes from MP. I didn't quite instacall but I didn't quite take my time either. I somehow found a reason to call and luckily ended up on the good side of a coin flip against AK - folding would've left me about 20BB after going through the blinds so I certainly could have folded. I figured I was more likely ahead of a flip or a smaller pair than I was against QQ-AA, although I'm not completely sure how I came to that decision in such a short period of time. I made the call, taking a chance at amassing a big stack & taking out one of the best players at the table. LJ shows AK & I'm already dreaming of the Down Under. The A on the flop had other plans, so I collected my $12 net and went home instead.

Not much to say about Fantasy Football, other than I'm on a two-game losing streak. Last week I was no match for Tom Brady, and this week I made a couple of questionable decisions that cost me a victory. Let's just say that Joey Galloway won't be leaving my bench for the rest of the year. Luckily, I'm still in first, but only by 1 game with a crucial two-game stretch against two hot teams right now, one of which is the second place team. Victories in the next two weeks would not just get me into the money, but also create separation against the pack for first place & the $400 prize.

Between school & OT this week I won't find much time to play or catch up on blogs, but I'll see what I can do. Congrats to Fuel for a nice showing at the BCPC, and good luck to all this week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hand Analysis Follow Up

So here's the hand from my last post, this time with the hands included. Both commentors were able to place me on the kind of hand that I had, but neither was able to come very close to what the other guy had. Anyways, here's my thought process on how I played the hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #4212802136: $5 + $0.50 Sit & Go (31957411), Table 7 - 400/800 Ante 100 - No Limit Hold'em - 1:05:13 ET - 2007/11/18
Seat 1: raf37 (10,030)
Seat 2: RUUDROB (27,585)
Seat 4: jouno (22,570)
Seat 5: TKehoe (14,505)
Seat 6: hossmopp (15,895)
Seat 7: mclarich (38,535)
Seat 8: vincent_1968 (6,640)
Seat 9: ornette (18,875)
raf37 antes 100
RUUDROB antes 100
jouno antes 100
TKehoe antes 100
hossmopp antes 100
mclarich antes 100
vincent_1968 antes 100
ornette antes 100
mclarich posts the small blind of 400
vincent_1968 posts the big blind of 800
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [4d 7c]
ornette folds
raf37 folds
RUUDROB has 15 seconds left to act
RUUDROB calls 800
jouno folds
TKehoe folds
hossmopp folds
mclarich calls 400
vincent_1968 checks

I know, I'm sitting on a virtual monster here. I'm OOP, but getting 8:1 with a stack like mine, I'm not folding this.

*** FLOP *** [5c 2c 3s]
mclarich checks
vincent_1968 has 15 seconds left to act
vincent_1968 checks
RUUDROB bets 1,600
mclarich calls 1,600
vincent_1968 folds

ROB's bet of 1\2 the pot doesn't seem that strong to me. I don't think he's on a complete bluff, maybe on some kind of draw. I didn't go into detail in my last post about what I'd seen from him other than saying "big hands are played fairly standard". I probably should have given a little bit more info because it definitely played into my thought process here. I'd seen him reraise showing AK, raise & call a reraise holding the JackAce, and calling a reraise preflop then reraising all in on an A high flop. So I really didn't see him trying to be tricky preflop and read his bet as a sign of weakness. I call with the OESD but I'm also thinking I might be able to bet him off the hand.

*** TURN *** [5c 2c 3s] [8s]
mclarich bets 3,200
RUUDROB calls 3,200

I don't see the turn card as being very helpful to either of us. It certainly doesn't help me any, but I decided to lead out anyways going on my read of weakness on his part. I bet half the pot here and he still calls.

*** RIVER *** [5c 2c 3s 8s] [8d]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets 8,000
RUUDROB has 15 seconds left to act
RUUDROB calls 8,000

The river is a bad card for me - like Alan mentioned, if he thinks I have two pair then I just got counterfeited. But, I really believe he is on some kind of draw here, I'm just not sure what. What I am sure of is that the 8 can't help him here other than a counterfeit, so most hands I put him on he probably has to fold. I bet about 2\3rds of the pot to make it seem like a value bet, like I'm enticing a call. I'm only going to win this pot by betting out anyways so I have to bet here. He takes his time, and I think he's legitimately thinking about folding, but decides to make the call.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
mclarich shows [4d 7c] a pair of Eights
RUUDROB shows [2s As] two pair, Eights and Twos
RUUDROB wins the pot (28,800) with two pair, Eights and Twos

When I saw what he had, I couldn't understand how he could call my bet on the river. To call that, he has to do one of three things:

1. Put me on a pair of 2s with a worse kicker
2. Put me on a busted draw of some sort
3. Develop a case of the "awfuckits"

I felt that he was one of the better players at the table but I was surprised he was willing to make that kind of call. Either he's better than I thought or just made a donkey call that paid off.

In his situation, would you have made that same call holding A2? Both commentors included drawing hands in my possible holdings, although I'm not sure if either of them thought that was more likely than a legitimate hand. I think I played it fairly well but made a couple of mistakes:

1. Check raise the flop. A strong argument could be made that this is a bad idea, but here's one way I look at it: If I'm putting him on weakness, why not try to win the pot right there? My range from the SB is pretty much ATC, so a check-raise could look like a flopped 2-pair or a straight perhaps. I don't like to check-raise a stone cold bluff, especially at these stakes, so I went with the delayed bet instead, hoping that would work.

2. I didn't bet enough on the turn. I should be betting at least 2\3rds to 3\4ths the pot here to make this play work. Of course, the turn gives him flush draws as well, so like a donkey he's probably calling anything but a push here. But only betting half-pot gave him odds to stay in the hand.

3. I took too long to bet on the river. I probably could have come out with a bigger bet here as well, maybe like 10k, but I shouldn't have taken so long to do it. IMO, it showed a bit of weakness on my part and may have played a factor in the call.

In this hand I feel like I took my play to Level 3 thinking but not Level 4. I tried to create an image of a strong hand, but I didn't consider very well how he was going to interpret that image. I was fairly correct on my read of weakness on his part, but I didn't execute as well as I could have to win the pot. Your thoughts?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

MTT Success (and a hand to analyze as well)

Yesterday was a pretty good day. 4 games, 4 cashes. Took 2nd in a couple of 1 table SNGs, but more importantly, final tabled 2 MTTs - a 90 player SNG & 118 player PLO. All at the $5 stakes, of course, so this is no major accomplishment, but I did double my bankroll in one day, so it's a blog-worthy topic, I think.

Not much to talk about from most of those games - it was basically straightforward play, getting my big pairs to hold up most of the time. I did take a gamble for 40% of my stack with 77 when an EP player limped then overbet allin when I made a standard raise. But my observation of him wasn't that he was a crafty player, just a very loose one, and I made the call against his AT soooted. The flop gave him a gutshot plus the nut flush draw, but somehow I dodged his outs and took a huge lead.

I did have one hand that I wanted to post about. This hand took place late in the game, I think we were down to 18. My opponent hasn't really shown anything crafty - most of his big hands are played fairly standard. What he's seen from me - isolating a couple of shortstacks with hands like KT & KJ, calling his all in on a J high flop after reraising him preflop with AJ (he had AJ as well), and doubling up JJ with KK when he rivered a straight. That leads us to this hand - I'm curious to see what you think the hands are here before I actually tell you:

Full Tilt Poker Game #4212802136: $5 + $0.50 Sit & Go (31957411), Table 7 - 400/800 Ante 100 - No Limit Hold'em - 1:05:13 ET - 2007/11/18
Seat 1: raf37 (10,030)
Seat 2: RUUDROB (27,585)
Seat 4: jouno (22,570)
Seat 5: TKehoe (14,505)
Seat 6: hossmopp (15,895)
Seat 7: mclarich (38,535)
Seat 8: vincent_1968 (6,640)
Seat 9: ornette (18,875)
raf37 antes 100
RUUDROB antes 100
jouno antes 100
TKehoe antes 100
hossmopp antes 100
mclarich antes 100
vincent_1968 antes 100
ornette antes 100
mclarich posts the small blind of 400
vincent_1968 posts the big blind of 800
The button is in seat #6
ornette folds
raf37 folds
RUUDROB has 15 seconds left to act
RUUDROB calls 800
jouno folds
TKehoe folds
hossmopp folds
mclarich calls 400
vincent_1968 checks
*** FLOP *** [5c 2c 3s]
mclarich checks
vincent_1968 has 15 seconds left to act
vincent_1968 checks
RUUDROB bets 1,600
mclarich calls 1,600
vincent_1968 folds
*** TURN *** [5c 2c 3s] [8s]
mclarich bets 3,200
RUUDROB calls 3,200
*** RIVER *** [5c 2c 3s 8s] [8d]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets 8,000
RUUDROB has 15 seconds left to act
RUUDROB calls 8,000

I know there's not a whole lot to go on here, but generally speaking, what type of hands would you put us on? In his position, what kind of hands would you be playing the same way he did in this position?

Tomorrow, I'll post the actual hands that we had. GL to everyone in the Big Game tonight!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chasing A Flush Preflop

I want to share a couple hands from a SNG I played recently. They aren't the most thought provoking but I think they're relatively demonstrative of the type of play I encounter at these stakes. I'm usually not thinking about hand history posts in the middle of a game, and I'm only beginning to go back through my hand histories more regularly - these are the only ones recently that I found remotely interesting.

Hand 1:

Seat 1: K1200s (1,380)
Seat 2: NeverBluffsGuy (3,170)
Seat 3: SusieQ1980 (960)
Seat 5: iliiliiiliiiil (1,395)
Seat 6: ipre4u (1,595)
Seat 7: mclarich (1,425)
Seat 8: hootman6913 (2,135)
Seat 9: Brandilynnpoker (1,440)
iliiliiiliiiil posts the small blind of 20
ipre4u posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Qd Ks]
mclarich raises to 120
NeverBluffsGuy calls 120
*** FLOP *** [3s As 9s]
mclarich checks
NeverBluffsGuy bets 300
mclarich calls 300
*** TURN *** [3s As 9s] [5s]
mclarich checks
NeverBluffsGuy checks
*** RIVER *** [3s As 9s 5s] [7s]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets 1,005, and is all in
NeverBluffsGuy folds
mclarich wins the pot (900)

Raise UTG with KQo. Not something I always do, but it's OK every now & then at these stakes. I could end up stacking someone who had KJ or less, and a pair or AK will usually reraise. CO+1 calls, and he seems to be a decent player. I make a loose call on the flop for two reasons: One, the draw to the nut flush, even though I'm not getting odds to chase. Two, and more importantly, I don't put this guy on the flush. When I see that pot bet, I call knowing that I can take this hand away from him on the river. His bet seemed weak, and I'm pushing the river 90% of the time because I sense that he could lay down the hand and I the stack to get him to do it. My mistake is going for the OBFV on the river - I don't know that he calls with anything other than QsXx right there, but a lesser spade may call a smaller river bet.

Hand 2:

Seat 1: K1200s (1,380)
Seat 2: NeverBluffsGuy (4,365)
Seat 5: iliiliiiliiiil (1,360)
Seat 6: ipre4u (1,490)
Seat 7: mclarich (1,280)
Seat 8: hootman6913 (2,060)
Seat 9: Brandilynnpoker (1,565)
ipre4u posts the small blind of 25
mclarich posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Kh 9d]
iliiliiiliiiil has 15 seconds left to act
iliiliiiliiiil raises to 150
mclarich raises to 400
iliiliiiliiiil has 15 seconds left to act
iliiliiiliiiil raises to 1,360, and is all in
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich folds
iliiliiiliiiil wins the pot (825)

A couple of hands later, button bets 3x when it folds to him. I make the mistake of putting him on a steal & reraise. I can't call his push with K9. Had I been more observant, I would have seen this was the first hand he raised all game, making a steal a bit less likely. About 3 hands before this, I laid down AQo after reraising a big bet from UTG, only to have the SB reraise me. Obviously, he had AA, and it was good against UTG's TT. So within about 4 hands, I've already has to lay down two hands preflop after reraising. That's a key setup for the next hand.

Hand 3:

Seat 1: K1200s (1,380)
Seat 2: NeverBluffsGuy (4,365)
Seat 5: iliiliiiliiiil (1,785)
Seat 6: ipre4u (1,465)
Seat 7: mclarich (880)
Seat 8: hootman6913 (2,060)
Seat 9: Brandilynnpoker (1,565)
mclarich posts the small blind of 25
hootman6913 posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Qc Ah]
mclarich raises to 880, and is all in
hootman6913 calls 830
mclarich shows [Qc Ah]
hootman6913 shows [5d 5h]
*** FLOP *** [9d 3h Kc]
*** TURN *** [9d 3h Kc] [7c]
*** RIVER *** [9d 3h Kc 7c] [Ad]
mclarich shows a pair of Aces
hootman6913 shows a pair of Fives
mclarich wins the pot (1,760) with a pair of Aces
hootman6913: OH $#%&ING HELL

Very next hand. Folds to my SB. I chose to shove here mainly because I wanted to create an image that I was on tilt after having to fold recently. I'll take a call since I'm ahead or flipping against most hands here. What I didn't want to do was put in a standard raise then have to fold to a bet if I miss the flop. The BB calls with presto but doesn't realize that he's not Fuel and that presto is not gold. Yet I'm the one that gets berated. Here's some excerpts from the chat that followed:

NeverBluffsGuy: wow
NeverBluffsGuy: huge overbet there
hootman6913: i had to call him with pockets <--cause there's no way possible I'm shoving 66+ there
mclarich: hoping he'd put me on tilt after folding two solid hands back to back
hootman6913: mclarich shut up
hootman6913: u got lucky
mclarich: never said i didn't
hootman6913: when u learn how to play u can speak again
hootman6913: how about seeing a flop before u go all in
hootman6913: its a novel concept <--for weak donks like this guy
NeverBluffsGuy: who likes flops?
NeverBluffsGuy: they're boring!
hootman6913: oh no overbet this time
mclarich: don't be mad just cause you lost a coinflip with a measly pair
mclarich: i go all in once and i'm labeled an overbetter?
hootman6913: hell why dont we all go all in right now

(break in chat while I lookup his sharkscope stats)

mclarich: hey hootman
hootman6913: hey douchebag
mclarich: try getting out of the negative before you start talking like a badass
mclarich: mr. -40% roi
hootman6913: your point and tonight ill be back up 100% <--obv doesn't understand what ROI is
hootman6913: like i am every night
mclarich: if you can't handle a beat calling an allin with 55, then you should just learn to fold it
mclarich: you'll feel better in the long run
mclarich: we should all just min bet from now on
mclarich: so hootman is happy
hootman6913: why mclarich because i know how to slow play <--calling 16x raise with 55 is a slow play?
hootman6913 raises to 240
hootman6913: theres ur raise buddy
hootman6913: now call me
mclarich: i'm waiting for AQ again
hootman6913: ull never get it
mclarich: clever comeback
hootman6913: wasnt meant to be clever was just true
mclarich: you must be a psychic then
hootman6913: so can u play any hands that arent face cards or double digets <--zing! I guess I should learn to play 49o more often.
mclarich: go back to absolute, cheater
mclarich: sure
mclarich: just won't play OOP with them

Hand 4:

Seat 2: NeverBluffsGuy (4,400)
Seat 5: iliiliiiliiiil (1,805)
Seat 6: ipre4u (3,250)
Seat 7: mclarich (1,550)
Seat 8: hootman6913 (950)
Seat 9: Brandilynnpoker (1,545)
iliiliiiliiiil posts the small blind of 50
ipre4u posts the big blind of 100
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Jh Kh]
mclarich raises to 300
hootman6913: umm pockets u always call <--get that everyone? ALWAYS!
hootman6913: UT OH HES GOT ACE QUEEN
hootman6913 has 15 seconds left to act
hootman6913 raises to 950, and is all in
mclarich calls 650
hootman6913 shows [Qh Ts]
mclarich shows [Jh Kh]
NeverBluffsGuy: this is gonna be good
*** FLOP *** [6d 5c 7d]
*** TURN *** [6d 5c 7d] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [6d 5c 7d 5s] [Jc]
mclarich wins the pot (2,050) with two pair, Jacks and Fives
mclarich: LOL
hootman6913 stands up

So the dude next to me is still on tilt. The table's getting short and I feel like he's going to push on any raise I make with a wide range of hands. Plus, the table is very tight & predictable at this point, so raising UTG with KJ sooted is a no brainer. Sure enough, the other dude pushes, and I insta-call. He couldn't have picked a worse hand to fight me with - QTo? I'm not playing like a maniac, so the best he could really hope for is two live cards. Luckily no suckout occured because it probably would've tilted me. Not the suckout itself, but the barrage of comments that would've come my way if he did suckout. We get in a few more words before he finally goes away:

mclarich: QT
mclarich: he pushed with QT
mclarich: unsooooooted
hootman6913 (Observer): yea i dont use suits buddy
hootman6913 (Observer): im not a rookie I dont chase flush's <---best.quote.ever
mclarich: you can't "chase" a flush before the flop
hootman6913 (Observer): never good luck man dont let that $!$&$$@ win any money
mclarich: i got him so on tilt he pushed with Q high

I ultimately go out in 3rd when I run 44 into AA. If anyone has anything to share about any of these hands, please do. I think the only hand I play differently is the K9 hand, but I don't think I played it that badly to begin with - more often than not, I'm up against a steal over a legitimate hand. I'll try to keep these hand history posts a bit shorter in the future, but if you're a loyal reader, you've already come to expect long posts from me anyways, so just deal with it. Ha!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bankroll Challenge, Part Deux

So now that I've got a little bit of money back in my account, I'm revisiting my bankroll challenge. In retrospect, I hate calling it a "bankroll challenge" because I think it's a bit misleading. I didn't start this because I wanted to challenge myself by building a bankroll from scratch. I just want the damn bankroll. But, being a man of limited financial resources, I'm forced to take the long route. In the end, the grind proved to be to much for me to handle, at least for now. Bankroll Challenge,1 - Matt, 0.

At the start of my challenge, I posted about five obstacles I felt I'd have to overcome to make the challenge work: patience, focus, aggressiveness, dedication, and attitude. In the end, I'd say I failed in each category, but I think I did better in some than in others.

Patience - At the table, patience has never been a problem for more, except that some would probably argue that I may have too much. In terms of the challenge, I was patient until my blowup at the end. Before then, I rarely jumped up the stakes, only for an occasional Mookie.

Focus - My focus waned as the challenge progressed. Towards the end, I started multi-tabling more often. I've gotten better at this, but I'm still not quite ready to incorporate multi-tabling into my repertoire.

Aggressiveness - This applies solely to the poker table, and I never felt like this became a problem.

Dedication - I did stray from the challenge too often. I donked around in the cash games more than I should have, and I probably should have cut down on the number of token games that I played. In addition, I never put in the dedication to analyze my play and seek improvement when I was struggling.

Attitude - I let the grind of the challenge affect my attitude a bit too much, and I think that was the catalyst that started my blowup. In addition, I let myself get more & more affected by losses. I got too fixated on trying to force myself to move up to the next level, so the losses started weighing on me more. The closer I got to $500, the more frustrated I got with each loss, which was silly. I should have just trusted myself enough to stay confident in my game, and I'd eventually get there.

I don't want to lament any more on my blowup - it's time to move on. It's a new start, a new challenge, and with that, I've got some new rules to BREAK follow:

1. I'm keeping the buyin levels the same. $5 SNGs (or the $6 turbo brethren) until $500, $10 until $1000, $20 until $1500, and so on. With the exception of the $5 games, I'll drop down to the lower level if my bankroll drops 10 buyins.

2. Win or lose, no more than 1 token game per week until I get to $500. Since I'm trying to build a bankroll, I don't need to spend my time trying to accumulate tokens. Had I not played any token games, I probably would have been at $500 a long time ago.

3. Play at least one multi-table SNG a week. Even if it's just a two-table game, I need to get more multi-table exposure. More on that in a bit.

4. Stay away from cash games. I'm positive that I can succeed at a cash table at some point, but I'm not ready to handle the swings I encounter just yet.

5. No poker on Tuesday or Friday. I need to take a break every now & then, so I've declared these two days as non-poker days (exception: poker books).

6. Incorporate more MTT play into my schedule. This one is difficult, due to time constraints with school right now, but this is something I must do. I'm a tournament player more than anything else (I didn't say a good one). It's what I enjoy the most & I think it best suits my style of play. I'll make due with multi-table SNGs when I can, but when the opportunity arises for a MTT, and the bankroll allows it, I need to play these more often.

7. No restrictions on withdrawing money. I don't need to add undue stress in my life by struggling over decisions to withdraw money. If I stick to the first 6 rules 100%, not only should my bankroll start to grow again, but I should be able to replenish whatever I withdraw anyways. One fact that is true is that, over the past several months, I have been a winning SNG player, so I shouldn't be discouraged by dips in my bankroll, whether it's due to losses or withdrawals.

8. Analyze my game more. To me, this is like stretching before working out. I HATE stretching, and when I don't do it, I don't notice anything until I'm really in pain, even though it's just as important as working out. I hate taking the time to analyze my game, but if I'm going to improve beyond my current abilities, I have to put in the effort to do so.

9. Keep track of wins\losses\profit\hr, etc. Not only should I be tracking my hand stats, I should also be tracking financial statistics. I'll never be able to fully declare I'm a winning player until I do this.

10. The most cliche' rule of them all: have fun. But this truly is the most important. I've been through this once, and I know what happens when I'm not having fun. The first nine rules don't mean a thing if I can't stick to the last one.

Again, I'm not as much concerned with trying to pull a Ferguson & accomplish a goal of building a bankroll from scratch, although I'll admit it will be quite an accomplishment itself if I'm able to. I'm just concerned with getting the bankroll itself so that I have the flexibility to play the games I want to play. When the opportunity arises, I'll try to accelerate my bankroll by making intermittent deposits, but I don't plan on doing that very often, so the majority of my bankroll will have to be earned. In light of everything that I've gone through the past couple of months, I'm confident that I can make this succeed. I'm reminded of a quote from Batman Begins (which I watched again this past weekend. Hands down, it is the best Batman movie ever made, and really, it stands up against more critically acclaimed films as a great film too). As said to Bruce Wayne first by his father, then again by Alfred - "Why do we fall, Master Wayne? So that we can learn to pick ourselves back up."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fantasy Football Week 10

Even though I'm posting this today, I started writing this on Monday. With still two players to go (well, one player & a defense), I'm absolutely confident that I'll be winning this week as well. What's better is that my opponent is in third place & is also the guy who gave me my only loss so far. I've beat him twice since then, so not only does it give me separation against him, but it gives me the edge as a tiebreaker, if needed. But don't let my swagger fool you - I had to survive quite the roller coaster to get here.


Peyton Manning - So heading into the Sunday night game, I was down by three with 4 players left: Manning, Wayne, B. Engram, & Seattle's D. I needed 4 points between the four of them to win, so it seemed like a lock. You could imagine my surprise when I checked the box score just before halftime & saw Manning with 50 yards & four interceptions. I had to go grocery shopping right after that, but I probably spent just as much time checking the score on my phone as I did shopping. Needless to say, I did NOT expect this kind of outing from him, and I'm just lucky I survived. But despite the horrible game, he's still ranked number 5 in my league.

Brian Westbrook
- And it's because of this guy that I did survive. Even though it's by less than one point, according to our scoring system, Westbrook is the number one RB in our league, just barely ahead of Adrian Peterson. I'll say it again - I'll take him over Peterson any day of the week. He doesn't have AP's explosiveness, but he makes up for that in versatility - almost half of his TDs are receptions. Plus, he hasn't given me less than 12 points a week - AP's done that twice already.

Marshawn Lynch - Another reason I'm soon to be 9-1 is this guy, the 6th ranked RB in our league. At the start of the season, he was an afterthought to me; at best, an emergency starter. But he's proven to be a legit RB and I won't be able to get him in the lower rounds next year.

Reggie Wayne - Although Manning almost blew the game for me this week, Wayne came through with another great day. He's on a great tear right now with Harrison out, and he's worked his way up to being a top 5 WR, which is what I expected when I drafted him.

Bobby Engram - All he has to do to give me a victory is not fumble the ball 6 times on Monday. I think that should be OK.

Heath Miller - Another week, another TD. Not only that, but the Steelers pulled out a victory against a dangerous Cleveland Browns team. Did I really just say that? Oh yeah - Miller's ranked as the 5th TE now.

Mason Crosby
- My bye week replacement for Kris Brown, I'll probably hold on to him for the rest of the year. Houston isn't looking that good, and Crosby is a...yep, you guessed it, a top 5 kicker.

Seattle D - All they have to do it not give up 80 points to the 49ers. I think the Niners will give a great effort tonight in light of Mike Nolan's dad passing away, but this isn't like New Orleans earlier this year - the Niners don't have the firepower to win in Seattle in a nationally televised game.


Derek Anderson - I thought the Steelers were going to manhandle him, but it was almost the other way around. There has to be no doubt that he's not just a legit fantasy QB, but a legit QB in real life too. It's going to be interesting to see how the QB situation plays out in Cleveland - it's very much like Brees\Rivers in San Diego two years ago. I'm pretty sure the Chargers would prefer to have Brees back at this point, I wonder if the Browns feel the same about Anderson. As far as fantasy is concerned, I'm officially taking him off my trading block. In case Manning sits the last couple of weeks, it'll be nice to have another top 5 QB to play in his place. Or maybe I'll just bench Manning the rest of the season - it's hard to argue against that at this point.

Andre Johnson - I'll be happy to get him back this week, but I'll take it slow with him since I really don't know what I'm getting any more. Anything he provides is just gravy at this point.

Waiver Wire

I picked up Earnest Graham when I grabbed Crosby & Engram this week as well, dropping Dwayne Bowe, Kris Brown & Wash D. I'm surprised that Graham was still available; he's been putting up decent numbers, but then again, in this league, I shouldn't be too surprised. Barring any injury, I think my last pickup will be Green Bay's D - they're hot right now, they've got a good schedule for the rest of the year, and they give me flexibility at that position. To grab them, I'll probably be saying goodbye to Travis Henry. He gave me some good games at the start of the year, but he's worthless now. So that'll leave my current roster as:

QB: Manning, Anderson
RB: Westbrook, Lynch, Graham, T. Jones
WR: Wayne, Galloway, Engram, Chambers, A. Johnson
TE: Miller, B. Watson
K: Crosby
D: Seattle, Green Bay

Not too shabby, I must say.

Other Notes

10 games in, and there hasn't been a single trade in this league yet. I don't think anyone wanted to trade with me because they were afraid of improving my team, and I can understand that. But I'm still surprised that no one else made a trade this year. It's getting to be too late for most teams, and there's nothing on the waiver wire that's going to help them out. This is the first year that we bumped the stakes to $100, and I'm surprised more teams aren't trying to be more active. Of course, being in Seattle, I don't know what negotiations are happening back in AZ, but like I mentioned before, I hardly got any consideration when I was making offers. But I'm not complaining - this is why I continue to play this league. Would it be more interesting if it was a bit more competitive? Sure. But I'm also where I am partly because I'm a competitive owner in a non-competitive league.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Learning A Lesson The Hard Way

Here it is; my first poker only post in a long time.

About a month ago, I cashed out what was left of my bankroll. The main reason I did this was because, quite simply, I needed the money at that time. I had written about this dilemma before, and at the start of my bankroll challenge, I declared that I wouldn't pull out any money for emergencies. But logic prevailed over standards, and it was the right thing to do at the time.

However, if I were a smart man, I would have pulled the money that I needed out before I went on a $200+ downswing. It only took a couple of hours, but in that time, I threw all the hard work of the previous 2 month away, trying to recoup losses by playing bigger stakes, stakes that I just couldn't handle. Had I thought things through, I would have been able to save part of my bankroll and continue playing.

But there's a positive in everything, even if it takes a while to realize it.

I pulled the money out because I needed it, but also because I was partly afraid that, if I continued playing, that I wouldn't be able to control myself, meaning, I would continue playing at stakes higher than what I could afford. I'm not sitting on a wad of disposable income, so my online bankroll represented all the money I could use for poker. If I went busto, it meant no poker for a long time. I could have tried to find other ways to resolve my financial problem, but knowing that I could use my bankroll instead, and out of fear that I could potentially squander the most logical solution to my problems, I cashed out. I didn't want to, but I did anyways.

So with no bankroll but still the same desire to play, I tried using my FTP points to satellite into tournaments & acquire tokens. That didn't go too well either. After a while, I had to get my poker fix by being a railbird & watching others play. Out of boredom, I would sign up for those FTP.Net Aussie Millions tournaments and just push every hand. At least it was action, as worthless as it may have been.

Nevertheless, the itch grew stronger. I thought about trying to hit Treasure Casino last weekend. Of course, I didn't have the money to do this. I thought about selling some CDs to earn the money. I thought "hey, I don't listen to these anyways, and I have them all stored on my hard drive anyways." My girlfriend convinced me it was a silly idea. I brought it up again at lunch on Saturday, mentioning about how I was thinking about using what little I had, maybe even borrow a bit from my savings account, to go play poker. Of course, I'm mentioning this at a lunch when I've sort of insinuated that I was expecting her to pay. I realized my selfishness by the time the bill came and instead offered to use my money to at least split the bill. For pulling such a selfish move, I should have at least bought the entire meal for her, but I couldn't afford to. Yet I was willing to go above and beyond to find a way to play poker.

That same day, I got the idea of doing a FTP for Paypal transfer with what little money I had left. Even just $15. I talked to a couple people about it, but I didn't really get that far. Until one person, who I'll keep nameless unless they wish to divulge their identity, offered to loan me money to get me started. Up to $500. Keep in mind, my bankroll never made it that far to begin with. I was humbled by this generous offer, but refused to accept such a large amount. We settled on $100, and instantly, I was back in business! I was already making plans to deposit money shortly after Christmas, thanks to overtime & an expected cash in my Fantasy Football league, so I knew I'd be able to repay that money back in no time, even sooner if I could run my bankroll up again.

My girlfriend, however, had a different perspective. She saw a boyfriend who, on the night that he cashed out his bankroll, was furious with himself for A) playing outside his limits, B) putting himself in a position where he wasn't going to have enough money to celebrate her birthday properly, and C) was getting back into his previous poker habits. She saw a boyfriend who was putting a bigger priority on finding ways to play poker than finding ways to not have his girlfriend cover him for meals & social activities. She saw a boyfriend who was borrowing money from someone he's never physically met, while at the same time having to work overtime to be able to afford their trip to see their families for Christmas.

My girlfriend has been supportive of me and my poker hobby. In a perfect world, she'd probably prefer that I don't play at all, but in a perfect world, I'd prefer to play a lot more than I am. We had found a good compromise that suited both of us, but I was starting to abuse it, and she let me know. We had a good conversation about it, and in the end, I returned the money back to the lender. Of course, it helped that I was able to run it up to over $150, so I still had some to play with, but even if I hadn't, it was the right choice to give the money back. The fact is, my hobby of playing poker was becoming much more than a hobby; it was becoming a burden, and borrowing money to play poker, money that would have been repaid by either working overtime or by hoping that my 1st place status in FF holds up, was not the best decision.

(I should take a moment to defend my girlfriend here. Between my comment on my last post, and my portrayal of her in this post, you might get the wrong idea of my girlfriend. She doesn't give me grief over wanting to play poker when it's a reasonable request. If I tell her I want to play poker instead of taking her out for her birthday, yeah, she's not gonna like that, but that's reasonable. She enjoys talking about poker with me, even playing in our home games when we have them. So if your impression of her is something of a wet blanket girlfriend, then it's because I haven't done a very good job of talking about her).

I've spent enough time on this blog lamenting my financial situation or my inability to show restraint when it comes to playing poker. There comes a time when it stops becoming a hobby and starts becoming a problem. I don't think I'm there yet, but at the same time, my perspective is skewed. I could totally understand why someone else would think that I do. Some of my friends told me this two years ago, when I was still finding ways to play poker in light of a huge financial obligation related to a DUI. They told me this a year and a half ago when I blew through a $3500 score in a couple of days. Instead of showing financial restraint or placing a priority on financial security, I've instead chosen to play poker. And as long as I continue to do that, I'm going to continue to have the problems I'm having now.

However, that doesn't mean I'm done playing poker. I've started working my bankroll up again, and thanks to that temporary loan, I'm essentially freerolling; my streak of not having to deposit since May continues. I'll continue my bankroll challenge and see if I can get up to $2k again, maybe even more. But what's changed is that it's no longer as big of a priority for me. Maybe one day I'll be able to find a balance in my life that allows me to play poker as competitively as I'd like without harming my long term goals. Maybe one day I'll be able to join all you other bloggers every week at the Mookie or the MATH. For now, I just have to be satisfied with the opportunity I have right now, because if I blow this one like I have others times, I don't know when I'll get the next one.

If you've made it this far, congratulations. I know that was a pretty long read. You probably won't see a more personal post from me, not on this blog at least, so thanks for sticking through it. I'll have some more posts coming up, including a post about my revised bankroll challenge. I'm also going to start posting more stuff like hand histories and solicitations for discussion. I've learned from my 7 card stud debacle that I'm not quite ready to start posting full-length strategy columns, but I do want to incorporate some more discussion into my blog. So thanks for reading. I don't have very many loyal readers, but I truly do appreciate the ones that I have. GL and I'll see you at the tables soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

7 Things About Me

Tragedy Edition. Or, why I'm not going to Vegas next month.

1. No moolah. Going to Vegas right weeks before I take a trip to AZ\CA to see family for xmas just isn't going to work

2. No time. Even if I had the money, I don't know that I could find the time to go. I know it's only a weekend, but because it's been over two years since I've last been, I don't know if a weekend would be enough for me.

3. No invitation. I know there's technically no invitation, but I don't know of any blogger that are interested in my attendance. I don't mean that in a woe-is-me kind of way - I just haven't been an active blogger lately, so I'm not really that well known by most that are going.

4. No restraint. Last time I went, I dropped about $1k playing roulette alone. I also dropped spent way too much money at the Rhino on a stripper with nipples that were way too long. I think I'm still recovering from that.

5. No balls. Even if all that wasn't an issue, I don't know if my girlfriend would appreciate me going without her. I told her the next time I went to Vegas, I'd take her with. I'm not wanting to feel the wrath if I revoked that.

6. No roommate. I'm running out of reasons why. I guess I don't know who I'd stay with if I was going.

7. No means no. I don't know what that means. I don't have any more reasons but I didn't want to mess up the cute little "no" theme I had going on.

Poker post goes up tomorrow. Are you excited? I figured you were.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fantasy Football Week 9

I promise, another poker post will be coming soon, and it won't be about freerolls. In the meantime, enjoy another post about fantasy football.

Looking at my roster, I'm amazed that I'm 8-1 right now. I wish I could attribute it all to skill, but undoubtedly, I've been very lucky this year. This week was more of the same - a little bit of foresight mixed in with a lot of luck.


Derek Anderson
- I fought with this choice all week. Most FF sites were recommending Manning over Anderson this week. Instead, I went with Anderson at home against a Seattle D that tends to be weaker on the road. After the first half, it looked bad for me, but a couple of Manning miscues & an explosive 2nd half from Anderson made this the right choice by about 5 points. Just imagine if Anderson added some TDs to his total.

Brian Westbrook
- Honestly, I'll take Westbrook over Adrian Peterson any time. I appreciate AP's big play value, but I want consistency from my RB. I want to know that my RB is going to give me 15+ points every week, not 45 one week and 7 the next. There hasn't been a more consistent running back this year than Westbrook.

Marshawn Lynch
- This guy has been pretty good this year too, and he finally had one of those games that's been predicted of him for the past 4 games or so.

Reggie Wayne - I really didn't expect too much from him this week - I figured NE was going to shut him down. I just didn't have anyone else to put in his spot.

Chris Chambers - My latest waiver wire addition. I was hoping for a better game against one of the worst pass defenses in the league.

Heath Miller - No yardage, but another TD. I picked up Ben Watson just in case, but as long as Miller is still scoring, Watson stays on my bench.

Kris Brown
- Bah. Kickers.

Wash D - I honestly was SO close to picking up Detroit's D, but instead I went with the higher ranked defense. I should've paid closer attention to recent play - Detroit's D has been on fire, and they were going against a struggling Broncos team. At least Washington didn't end up negative points.


Peyton Manning - He'll be back in my lineup next week. Although it only gave me an extra 5 points, I'm kinda proud of my decision to bench him. I don't know of many people who'll bench Peyton in any week, but I just felt that he wasn't the better play this week.

Joey Galloway
- I'm so sick of Joey Galloway. I never know when to start him because he's so damn inconsistent. He's probably going to continue to go off until I play him again, and then he'll revert back to his 12 yard games.

Waiver Wire

As I've mentioned before, my league has a liberal waiver-wire policy. You can make as many moves as you want, and after Monday, it's first-come, first-serve. Since my league is only fairly active, and most of them don't have a clue, I usually get fresh pickings. I lost out on M. Colston last week, when someone claimed him before Monday, and they had better waiver position than me. This week, I didn't see any claims, so I'm dropping Wash D, K. Brown (bye week) and D. Bowe for B. Engram, E. Graham, and M. Crosby. I thought about picking up Detroit's D, but I have Seattle at home against SF this week - that's a must play.

Other Notes

Schaubs left a comment last week asking about what sites I use. Honestly, I don't really use that many. I read most of ESPN's stuff on a weekly basis, but what I care about most are two things - points against stats & injury reports. Most of my roster is already set by default - Westbrook, Lynch, Wayne, Miller are always starters. Manning is most of the time. Where I usually need info is when I'm deciding which Defense to start, or who to start at my 2nd WR spot. I use the points against stats to see who's giving up more points at the WR spot. It's not my sole factor in determining who to play, but it plays a big part. I usually rely on early Sunday morning to see if there's any injuries I need to know about (i.e. is Andre Johnson coming back yet?). At this time in the season, I don't really rely on much info to make my decision - you usually know who your horses are at this point, so you run with them. I usually start gathering more information as it gets closer to the end of the season. As the playoff picture starts developing, I need to know who's still running their starters, and who's getting benched. But right now, decisions are usually easier to make, so I don't invest a lot of time making them.