Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Goal Down, Four To Go

I should have been in school tonight. Instead, I decided to ditch after a long day at work. I was certain I was going to fall asleep in class, so I figured a better use of my time was to come home, nap, then play the Mookie.

4 hours later, this happened:

Now, I can actually cross a goal off the list for 2008. The details:

I was still asleep by the time the game started & missed out on the first 6 hands. Turns out one of those was AA. Luckily for me, there would be plenty more in my future.

I kept my stack somewhere between 3k & 4k for most of the first 1.5 hours. I knocked a shortstack Hoy out when he pushed on my button raise for about 800 more with AJ. I only had 55 but it wasn't too much more to call, so I did & the pair held up. That got me to around 6k.

At the next level (500\250\50), I knocked out another shorty with AK against A2. That pushed me up to 12k and somewhere in the top 10. We were getting closer to the bubble, and there were a lot of stacks around the 10-15k mark, with a couple of aggressive big stacks. With the tables short-handed, I looked for opportunities to steal and prevent my stack from dwindling.

When we made it to the final table, I was at 10-11k again, but still the shortstack. I think this was my 4th final table, and each time I've been a shorty to start. I ended up going out by running into monsters the past couple of times, and I really just wanted to not be the first one out this time. The poker gods had other plans.

7 hands into the final table, I get my first AA. Luckily I got some action this time when there was a raise & reraise preflop:

That hand vaulted me into 4th place. But I wasn't done yet; the very next hand:

In two hands, I go from shortstack to chipleader. Things were looking pretty good.

Four hands later, I get another monster UTG: But my raise was met with a reraise by syndrome187. I had spent most of the night at the same table and I felt that his raise meant some form of pocket pair, probably somewhere in the range of 88-QQ. His stack was about 5k less than mine, and I really didn't feel like racing at that point. I thought about folding, but for 6k more, I figured I'd see a flop and reassess where I'm at. Good thing I did:

I figured he probably had JJ-QQ to lead out with a bet yet fold to a reraise. But I still wasn't done. Very next hand:

LJ raised, Waffles smooth called so I went for the squeeze. Worked like a charm! All that within 10 hands, and not only was I the chipleader, but I was close to double the 2nd place Waffles.

From there, I tried to be an somewhat active stealer, but I didn't feel like my stack was big enough to be super-aggro.

Waffles knocked out Fuel with AA against a double-gut shot to get us to four. I get another monster in the BB and it folds to Waffles in the SB, who limps. For whatever reason, I decided to be coy and just limp. I felt confident that I could get away from the hand if the flop was scary. Luckily for me, it was anything but: K72 with two diamonds.

Surprisingly, Waffles led out with a bet. I wasn't quite sure what he had, and I debated smooth-calling or raising. I didn't want to give away the strength of my hand, so I went for a weak near-minraise to make it seem like I was trying to steal. He just flat called, and the turn gave us the best card in the world - the 2 of diamonds. We didn't get the chips in until the river but turns out that card helped him out a lot too:

After that, it was just me & the ladies: Donkette & LJ. I had a 144k\46k\38k chiplead, and I could almost taste my first Mookie victory. But they had other plans.

To say that the 3-way battle was epic might be an understatement. On multiple occassions, we all had the chip lead. I tried to knock out Donkette with AQ against her 88 but couldn't. Took KQ to battle against LJ but lost to her 66. I went from big stack to mid stack to low stack, back and forth. I don't have a count of how many hands we played 3-way but we fought for more than 35 minutes. It felt like an eternity, but we finally got to two handed when I called LJ's shortstack push with A6 and turned a flush against her 33.

Finally, I was one player away from the title, but I was against probably my toughest opponent all night: Donkette. She wasn't having any of my stealing for most of the night, and we traded chips back & forth with steals & resteals.

The very first hand heads up, Donkette disconnected, and I stole the pot with a bet, knowing she would fold. I do this all the time in SNGs, but I quickly realized that it would be completely unfair & classless to do that in a game like this. Besides, I didn't want my first Mookie victory to be tainted because I stole chips from a disconnected opponent. So I traded folds with Donkette until she reconnected. I got some kind remarks from the donkeys on the rail, but really, waiting it out was a no-brainer. It's what being part of this poker-blog community is all about.

Donkette found yet another way to double up with with QT against my A3, and my 4-1 chiplead was down to less than 2-1. But I stole & stole somemore to whittle her stack down, and finally found a hand that we were both willing to get it all in with. The result?


For me, this is more than just a victory in a small $10 poker tournament. First of all, the win more than doubles my wee little bankroll, getting me closer to my goal of $2k. Second of all, winning a Mookie, in my opinion, gives me just a little bit more credibility as a poker blogger, if only for just a week. I know I've got a ways to go before I'll be mentioned in the same breath as some of the more successful players in this blogging community, and one Mookie title won't really change that much. But hopefully, a victory like this helps move me beyond the "fringe" status I've given myself and helps integrate me more into the poker blogging community.

Thanks to everyone who railed me last night (oh wait, that was no one), and a special shout out to LJ & Donkette - that was one hell of a final table.

I'll have to skip next week so the title will be up for grabs next Wednesday. Good luck to everyone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sharkscope At A Glance

2nd place is the new first, evidenced by my Sunday night success where I finished 2nd in all 4 SNGs that I played, including a 2nd place finish in another $3 KO game. I even took 2nd place in a Turbo O8 game; I registered thinking that it was a PLO game. I haven't played O8 in months and found my game to be rusty. I just placed super tight early going, waited until the blinds gave me just enough fold equity, doubled up by taking down an entire pot with nothing but a flopped pair of 4s, and grew my stack from there.

I've been thinking about my last post & some of the comments that were left. Obviously I haven't made an effort to reach my goals quite yet (seems to be a common theme of this blog), albeit some of the goals (Mookie win, MTT win) are semi-dependent on other goals (bankroll building). Additionally, the goals aren't weighted the same - building my bankroll is by and far the most important goal this year. But suffice it to say that I have found success because I haven't put forth the effort to be successful.

One of the areas that has hampered my success has been my ability to stick to one game. Alan had a great post the other day about sticking to one game, and I share that view to a degree. What I'm more concerned with is sticking to one buyin level. My current bankroll doesn't give me the freedom to play a wide variety of buyins, but there are obviously some games that I've found to be more beatable than others.

According to Sharkscope, there are certain games that are significantly more profitable than others.

My least profitable game is a $2 buyin. For the most part, these games were single-table SNGs or heads up SNGs. I'm not quite sure why I've been so unsuccessful at these stakes, and I don't really know if there's a correlation between the stakes and my success (you would figure that, if there is, I'd see a similar correlation at the $1 stakes - more on those next). Additionally, when my girlfriend was playing, these were the stakes she would play, but she cashed fairly regularly, and I'd almost be willing to bet that her winnings actually make my ROI better. My best guess would be that my play was a lot more reckless at these buyins, but I really don't know. I haven't actually played these stakes in a while now, but according to the graph that's probably a good thing.

What's interesting is that, looking at the buyin below that, I've been very successful at the $1 stakes. However, I've played very little of these games, and I think the ROI in this case is boosted by sample-size & one of my cashes being a 1st place in a 5-table game for about $17. Regardless, I've moved beyond $1 and $2 stakes because they don't provide enough profit to make my time worthwhile.

My next least successful game is at the $6 buyin. At these buyins, I most often play Turbo PLO or 6-max Token games. The sample size at these levels is probably too small to determine truly how successful I am, but I have to admit I'm kind of surprised by these games. I've assumed that winning tokens are included as profit, but that might be one explanation. I have been rather unsuccessful at the token games lately, and I might be less successful at the PLO games. I play the PLO games at the turbo level because they seem to fill up faster than the $5 regular games, and I thought I had been doing well at those as well. Looks like that might not be the case.

At the $10 buyin, I've played too few games to really consider what those stats mean.

The two most profitable buyins are the $5 and the $2.50 games. The $5 games are my bread and butter - I've sustained the 40% ROI for some time now. I could probably cash in these things in my sleep. However, the ROI is partially inflated by a 90-seat victory - my ROI at just the single-table would probably be several percentage points less. But these are the games that I'm primarily relying on to build my bankroll, and it's good to know that they're also my second-most successful.

I'm a bit surprised to see the $2.50 games at the number one spot, only because I thought I had donked out of enough of these to make this much lower. These are the $3 KO games, so I imagine I've scored enough bounties to partially offset some of the non-cashes. You don't make the cash until you final table these, but I've been able to do that several times, and have already scored a 1st place, 2 or 3 2nd place finishes, and a 4th to make these games highly profitable so far. The sample size is still too small, but even so, that ROI is pretty sick I must admit.

So what does this all mean? It means that, if I'm going to work on building my bankroll, I probably need to cut out the $6 games, both the Turbo and the token variety. I'm fine with cutting out the token games, because winning a token alone doesn't add to my bankroll. Besides, if I'm going to play a Token game, I should man up, invest another $2, and play the 2-table $8 games, which gives me a 3.6:1 shot at winning a token instead of a 6:1 chance. I've been hesitant to play anything beyond $6 stakes for tokens, but really, the $8 games just make more sense.

As far as $5 vs $2.50 games, I think it's best if I try to play them in a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio. Although my ROI is much higher at the $2.50 games, I have a 9:1 odds of cashing vs 3:1 odds of cashing in a $5 game. Additionally, I'd have to finish (if I recall correctly) 7th or higher to get the same profit I'd get with a 3rd place in a $5 game. So my odds of getting at least $5 profit in either game at 12.8:1 vs 3:1. 1st place profit in a $2.50 game is much higher (about 30x) than it is in a $5 game (4.5x) but it's a more volatile game overall. Ideally, if I can maintain an ROI at the $5 game (20-25%, which is probably where I'm at without the 90 seat victory), I'll use those to steadily increase my bankroll while using the $2.50 KO games as ways to quickly boost my bankroll. I estimated that I would need to average about $40wk profit to get my bankroll to $2k by November. I'm a bit behind that right now, but I think this formula will get me there a lot quicker than I would have if I kept playing the $6 games as well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008 Goals Update

A month into a new year is a good time to revisit yearly goals, I suppose. Not that I've really made much progress on any of them. Truth is, this should probably be my shortest post of the year.

Goal 1: Build my bankroll up to $2k.

Grade: D

I've been unsure how to measure this goal - should it be based on progress over a period of time, or just the end result by a particular deadline? I graded myself a D because I spent too much time at the cash games trying to clear a bonus, ultimately losing more money than I got back in the bonus. A recent streak of cashes in SNGs over the past couple of nights has helped my bankroll get back up to where it was at before. I'm still quite a ways away from my goal, but getting there will be difficult if I don't stick to the games that I play the best in.

Goal 2: Read all of my poker books

Grade: D

I started HOH2 over again because I stopped after the first time. I haven't made it past the same section yet, and I haven't picked it up in a while. Part of this I blame on my schedule lately - what free time I've had I've preferred to use it playing instead of reading.

Goal 3: Win a Mookie

Grade: F

In two games, I haven't even sniffed a final table. I shamefully blew up in one game, and donked off my chips to an overpair in another. Mookies will probably be on hold for several months until I finish school.

Goal 4: Win an MTT with over 300 players

Grade: F

I haven't even played one yet. Got close to a FT in an PLO game a couple of weeks back, but there were only about 150 people in there. Again, another goal that is dependent on other things right now (bankroll, time, etc.)

Goal 5: Become a more visible blogger

Grade: C-

Meeting several bloggers in real life is a good start. So is getting on Hoy's blogroll. I could always just shamefully link up bloggers to drive traffic to my blog, but that's kind of embarrassing. Inability to comment on other people's blogs from work will always be a deterrent, as will my absence from blogger games. And one of these days, I will be free to accept one of IT's IM invitations to chat with others, but he always catches me when I'm unavailable. For now, I'll have to make due with my fringe-lurker status, or at least start posting more relevant poker-related posts.

I have the intention of stepping up my efforts to achieving each of these goals, but figuring out a way to execute them & determining the overall importance of these goals vs. other priorities is the challenge. Unlike last year, my attitude is great, but dedication, motivation, and determination still need a good kick in the rear. It's still early in the year, plenty of time to achieve my goals, but I'm not yet in the position I need to be to truly have a chance at accomplishing many of them.

To be continued...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Easy Money

When one is in desperate need of some cash, there's no limit to what people will do. Some will turn tricks, others will resort to thievery. Luckily for me, I found another way to make money without subjecting myself to being a whore or a criminal: Play poker with other bloggers. There isn't any easier money out there.

Cayne & his roommate Joshua hosted the first of many Seattle Blogger Home Games on Saturday night, with others in attendance including myself, The Wife, Seattle John, meanhappyguy, and Cayne's friend Andre, who will always be welcome at our games after supplying us with a wonderful table to play on. Quite the motley crew if there ever was one.

We got underway with the first game at 7pm, and Seattle John started the game by taking down several pots uncontested. If you're not familiar with SJ or his blog, he's very much an accomplished player, regularly winning at some of the biggest stakes in town. In fact, I had to chuckle to myself when he asked if any of us were heading to the Commerce for the games this month - my bankroll wouldn't even get me a flight there! Anyways, SJ quickly established control of the table, reminding us that, even if we were there for good times & Cayne's alcohol, there was still some poker to be played.

I didn't get much to play with, and resorted to stealing pots when other players showed weakness. I check-raised Joshua with nothing but a Q-high flush draw on an A-high flop, figuring that his limp preflop didn't represent a strong hand. He called my raise but folded to my second bullet on the turn. I think that was the only hand I won postflop in the game.

My stack began to dwindle, and I had to make a move soon. Cayne started picking on my blind, but I called one of his raises with Q8h. I thought about pushing preflop because I didn't figure he had that strong of a hand, but I didn't have the marbles to do it. Instead, I chose to check raise him on a KT9, 2-diamond board. His lead bet didn't seem that strong & I figured I could push him off the hand. He called with a lesser hand, J8, but he also had two diamonds to give him a lead in the hand. The turn was a blank but the river was a diamond, and I justifiably lost the hand.

I can't recall if it was before or after my bustout when Joshua utilized his incredible poker acumen to acquire SJ's stack. The preflop action went raise-Joshua, reraise-SJ, smooth call-Joshua. The flop came A6x when Joshua checked...from the button! Oh, that crafty Joshua, checking out of position to induce a bet from SJ. SJ took the bait and bet out, Joshua pushed all in, and SJ makes the call. SJ shows AK, Joshua shows A6. The 6 on the turn completed Joshua's mastery of SJ and gave him a huge stack that he took heads up against Cayne. After watching that play, I was humbled, recognizing that I was in the presence of a poker deity. I can only hope that Joshua can find time away from hustling players at the Muckleshoot to join us donks in our home game again. Having a poker player of that quality helps give our little home game just a little more respectability.

I ran off to BofA to grab a second buyin, and I come back to find Cayne, Joshua, and The Wife all wearing dorky-ass cowboy hats, reminding me that I wasn't in Seattle anymore. There's proof of this on The Wife's blog. Joshua & Cayne were locked in an epic battle for first place, but Joshua was able to channel his luckbox superpowers and score a victory against Cayne, forcing Joshua to sleep on the couch the rest of the weekend.

The second game started off much like the first - I lost some chips, meanhappyguy folded a lot, Cayne looked generally lost, and Seattle John went out early. I fought Joshua's donkeyness with donkeyness when I stole a pot from him on a KKQJx board with a reraise on the river holding nothing but A9o. Andre fought back from his role as the Gigli in the first game by taking out pretty much the entire table, getting us down to three - Andre, myself, and The Wife. Unfortunately, I was a shortstack....unfortunately for them, that is.

I pushed my stack around like I owned the table, stealing pots, calling down with TP4K and winning, c-betting with A-high, folding to any signs of strength. I was a machine, and before I knew it, I tripled up my stack only showing down one hand. The Wife and Andre went back and forth, with The Wife doubling up with KJ vs 77 on a JJxxK board, but he returned the favor by taking her stack with A9 vs her own 77 when he caught a pair on the turn. Finally, Andre & I were heads up, and I was at least a 2-1 dog. But it didn't last long.

We limped the first hand, and we see a raggedy 347 rainbow flop. Andre bets 3k. I've got 10k total. I'm basically committing my whole stack if I'm don't fold.

Oh wait. I have 56. Raise, reraise, call. Andre shows J7 and doesn't catch a miracle.

From there, I was just lucky enough to catch enough cards to stay aggressive. One thing I notice was that Andre was being very aggressive when I limped from the SB. I utilized this to catch him off guard, and decided to limp with a monster: A3. Sure enough, Andre pushes on cue, and I call, because you can't fold A3. He shows Q2 and his 17:1 underdog hand doesn't find a miracle. Victory is mine! You can see the elation on my face on The Wife's blog.

We played a quick cash game of HORSE, and by quick I mean excrutiatingly long and painful. I made some wonderful plays, like calling a 2-bet with just an OESD, no low, in O8 (which got there on the turn, giving me the entire pot when the river bricked for the low) and 4-betting it on 7th street in Razz with just 7-high (The Wife had the 2nd nuts). Somehow, I was able to end up the big winner of the game, doubling my buyin, which mostly came from meanhappyguy, who, after suffering defeat after defeat all night, has changed his name to meanunhappyguy.

But regardless of the monetary success, it was a hell of a good time. The game was great, the company was wonderful, and the turkey rolls from Costco were incredibly addicting. The evening couldn't have been any better (well, except maybe in Joshua's case, who wasn't able to utilize his text-messaging skills to score some vagina), and I hope that all of us (+ zeem, who was unfortunately absent this time) will be able to do this again soon.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Bloom's Taxonomy

Even when I'm in school I'm thinking about poker.

I'm taking an Extension course through the University of Washington - a certificate program for Human Resources. My company has been gracious enough to pay for this - freeroll!

Monday nights, we talk about Developing Effective Training Programs. I didn't expect this to be anywhere near interesting, but since I found a way to relate it to poker, it keeps my interest. Last Monday, we started getting into the bulk of the material about developing a program, and our instructor mentioned Bloom's Taxonomy. Now, we only discussed this for less than an hour, so I won't claim to be an expert, but here's a quick summary:

Bloom suggests that there are six levels of learning within what he calls the "cognitive domain", broken into three hierarchical groups. The first group consists of Knowledge (i.e. recollection of facts and techniques) and Comprehension (i.e. translation of said facts). Learning at it's most basic form consists of these two levels. The next group consists of Application (using knowledge & comprehension in new circumstances) and Analysis (Identify motives or causes). The final group consists of Synthesis (compile information differently) and Evaluation (present & defend judgments or opinions). Again, this is a very basic summarization

As the class is discussing this, I start drifting away, thinking about how this relates to poker, and it seems very relevant to how one improves as a poker player. When one first learns about poker, one could say it goes in this order:

Knowledge (i.e. what are the cards, hand rankings, bettingcheckingfoldingraising)

Comprehension (i.e. folding = losing the hand, betting or raising = trying to win the hand, etc.)

Application (i.e. betting can mean a good hand or a bluff, betting in position vs. out of position, pot odds, etc.)

Analysis (i.e. betting trends, multi-street betting, etc.)

Synthesis (i.e. assigning possible hands & ranges, probablity of hands, pot odds vs. hand ranges, etc.)

Evaluation (i.e. defending or critiquing someone or your own action)

Whether or not those examples properly demonstrate Bloom's Taxonomy, I can't say with confidence, but I think it shows the hierarchical value of each level. What I found particularly interesting is that Evaluation is the final step. As applied to poker, I would infer that Bloom's Taxonomy suggests that, before one can claim to have acquired the skill of being able to evaluate a poker decision, one has to successfully complete the five preceding levels. I think there's definitely some truth to this as it applies to my growth as a poker player.

I've been a poker blogger for over a year now, yet I often times find myself hesitant to comment on other blogs when the discussion turns to hand histories or poker strategy for one main reasons: I am not confident in my ability to process the information to the extent that I can evaluate a particular action. I think it's fair to say that, if I'm not confident in that ability, then my skill level as a poker player is limited.

As it stands right now, I think I'm safely somewhere on the Analysis level. If I intend to improve as a poker player, I need to expand my learning into the Synthesis & Evaluation levels. I don't know if there's any right path to getting to those levels, but it's at least something to shoot for.

Monday, February 04, 2008


I've lost the right to complain about poker for at least a month after winning this hand:

I run goot.