Thursday, July 31, 2008

From Bad To Good

Tried the Daily Doubles tonight. Went out WAY early in DDA when I lost with a flush to a better flush. Lost in DDB when I couldn't get a fold vs JJ despite A) raising preflop, B) calling IP on an 877, 2 spade board and C) reraising allin when the As hit the turn. Donkey found one of the few times JJ is good against me on that board (naked bluff).

Mookie wasn't going too well either. Tangled with BamBam in a BB vs SB hand. Flopped TP, check-raised when turn gave me a gutshot as well but he min 3-bet then pushed the river with a flush showing. Probably a good laydown, but after seeing him call go to felt with a gutshot of his own, then admitting later he was drunk, perhaps not. Wheels fell off from there despite doubling up through sellthekids with JJ vs KK, went out open-shoving button with 8BB and K3o, ran into Numbette's AQ.

Things picked up from there, and I would eventually get revenge on Numbette in the Dookie. She had the best of me for most of heads up, picking off a bluff with 2nd pair, then getting our chips in the middle when we were pretty much even stacked with 77 vs my 66. Turn was a 6 and I eventually closed it out for my 2nd Dookie win ever.

On a whim, I used a $75 token from last night on one of the FTOPS satellites, Event 15. Flopped a set with JJ vs KK for the second time tonight and rode that stack to victory for entry into my first FTOPS:

Debating whether to stay in the tournament or take the $T and use more wisely. Considering I'm in for only $15 I might as well take a shot at it. My birthday is five days prior - is it too much to ask for a 5 figure birthday gift?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sometimes You Just Know

I'll follow up on my last post later this week. Just wanted to share this post before I forget.

I've been playing the $10 KO SNGs lately as I've had success in the past at the $3.30 variety. These are super high variance because 95% of the players are uber donks, making for some interesting calls and glorious suckouts. I missed out on a couple pots when AJ lost on a two outer to Q9 AIPF, even with a JJQ flop, then split another pot with the same donk with AQ vs A8. Table was fairly chatty so I joined in out of boredom:

Full Tilt Poker Game #7420915057: $10 + $1 KO Sit & Go (56433657), Table 1 - 100/200 - No Limit Hold'em - 2:42:31 ET - 2008/07/29
Seat 1: ribs104 (1,410)
Seat 2: Sapino (6,050)
Seat 3: mclarich (4,585)
Seat 4: mikeg2006 (14,380)
Seat 5: Nuggetplay13 (3,700)
Seat 7: tommyboy1951 (1,995)
Seat 8: 1Diago (2,080)
Seat 9: Bold__Ruler (18,545), is sitting out
Bold__Ruler posts the small blind of 100
ribs104 posts the big blind of 200
The button is in seat #8
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [3c 9c]
Sapino folds
mclarich: i'm destined to lose this one
mclarich folds
mikeg2006 folds
Nuggetplay13 raises to 700
mclarich: 2 outers on river, splitting pots with A8
tommyboy1951 raises to 1,995, and is all in
1Diago folds
Bold__Ruler folds
ribs104 folds
Nuggetplay13 calls 1,295
tommyboy1951 shows [Qd Ks]
Nuggetplay13 shows [7d 7s]
*** FLOP *** [8d 3s 3h]
*** TURN *** [8d 3s 3h] [5s]
*** RIVER *** [8d 3s 3h 5s] [Js]
tommyboy1951 shows a pair of Threes
Nuggetplay13 shows two pair, Sevens and Threes
Nuggetplay13 wins the pot (4,290) with two pair, Sevens and Threes
tommyboy1951 stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 4,290 | Rake 0
Board: [8d 3s 3h 5s Js]
Seat 1: ribs104 (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: Sapino didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: mclarich didn't bet (folded)
Seat 4: mikeg2006 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: Nuggetplay13 showed [7d 7s] and won (4,290) with two pair, Sevens and Threes
Seat 7: tommyboy1951 showed [Qd Ks] and lost with a pair of Threes
Seat 8: 1Diago (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 9: Bold__Ruler (small blind) folded before the Flop

Very Next Hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #7420920041: $10 + $1 KO Sit & Go (56433657), Table 1 - 100/200 - No Limit Hold'em - 2:43:09 ET - 2008/07/29
Seat 1: ribs104 (1,210)
Seat 2: Sapino (6,050)
Seat 3: mclarich (4,585)
Seat 4: mikeg2006 (14,380)
Seat 5: Nuggetplay13 (5,995)
Seat 8: 1Diago (2,080)
Seat 9: Bold__Ruler (18,445), is sitting out
ribs104 posts the small blind of 100
Sapino posts the big blind of 200
The button is in seat #9
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Jh Jc]
mclarich raises to 600
mikeg2006 folds
Nuggetplay13 folds
1Diago folds
Bold__Ruler folds
ribs104 folds
Sapino has 15 seconds left to act
Sapino calls 400
*** FLOP *** [2s 3c Tc]
Sapino has 15 seconds left to act
Sapino bets 5,450, and is all in
mclarich calls 3,985, and is all in
Sapino shows [Td Kc]
mclarich shows [Jh Jc]
Uncalled bet of 1,465 returned to Sapino
*** TURN *** [2s 3c Tc] [8s]
*** RIVER *** [2s 3c Tc 8s] [Th]
Sapino shows three of a kind, Tens
mclarich shows two pair, Jacks and Tens
Sapino wins the pot (9,270) with three of a kind, Tens
mclarich stands up
ribs104 stands up
Sapino stands up
mikeg2006 stands up
Nuggetplay13 stands up
1Diago stands up
Bold__Ruler stands up
mclarich (Observer): told ya

Why is it that my clairvoyant powers only activate when I know I'm gonna get sucked out on?

Who Makes This Call?

Played the $28k at 11am local time today. Had this hand came up that I thought was sorta interesting. Considering the action, what hand(s) do you put the SB on and, based on that, do you call with TP2K for most of your stack? This occurred during the first hour of the tournament, average stack size about 4900.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7411961375: $24,000 Guarantee (55623099), Table 116 - 40/80 - No Limit Hold'em - 14:49:38 ET - 2008/07/28
Seat 1: ItsOnlyIVIoney (3,256)
Seat 2: FishyLuckbox (7,320)
Seat 3: JohnnyBax (2,375)
Seat 4: Django_M (5,360)
Seat 5: jotan83 (2,550)
Seat 6: mclarich (2,795)
Seat 7: DMC5x (6,165)
Seat 8: jas225 (3,785)
Seat 9: buriedatsea (6,759)
jotan83 posts the small blind of 40
mclarich posts the big blind of 80
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Ks 9d]
DMC5x folds
jas225 folds
buriedatsea folds
ItsOnlyIVIoney folds
FishyLuckbox folds
JohnnyBax folds
Django_M folds
jotan83 calls 40
mclarich checks
*** FLOP *** [6c 9s 7c]
jotan83 bets 80
mclarich raises to 200
jotan83 raises to 2,470, and is all in

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Take Two (Hand History Included)

So much for that idea.

FTP rejected my last two cash pickup withdrawals on the basis that they are no longer available in my geographic area. Seems to be the case for all of Washington. So I'm trying the check option again. One has been approved; I'll wait to see how that goes before I do the other one.

My remaining bankroll originally was supposed to be just under $1k but I've had a decent run lately and have worked it up somewhere just above that. I've mostly been playing the $10 90-seat SNGs. I've had a lot of success at the $3 variety & I'm finding that the players don't improve that much at the higher stakes. Haven't found my way to a first place yet but have a couple of final tables to keep these things fairly profitable. I've also been playing a lot of O8 SNGs as well just for variety.

I did play a couple of MTTs recently, one of those being the Mookie. I had a strong table: Miami Don immediately to my right, LJ two to my left, and Jordan somewhere between those two. And, to make things more interesting, CK and Lucko joined us when the tables broke. I played fairly tight, pretty much surrendering my SB to Miami Don regularly, but slowly worked on building my stack until my 99 lost to LJ's 88 on a 7 high board when she rivered a gutshot. Held tight until I decided to take AK to war against Jordan and his QQ held up. So much for the Mook.

I couldn't really get too much started in the $28k and ended up going out with what I thought was two overs & a flush draw on a 7 high board. Villian flopped middle set with 66 and I couldn't find a third spade.

However, I did have an interesting hand that I wanted to get some feedback on. If you read my blog regularly, you probably know that I like to bluff. Additionally, for better or worse, I like to get creative with my bluffs. One of the easiest bluffs is against a paired board vs a c-bet. At higher stakes, it may be more difficult to detect whether or not the villain has a hand. But at the lower stakes, it becomes a fairly good way to pick up some additional chips.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7349179637: $28,000 Guarantee (55775202), Table 108 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:18:45 ET - 2008/07/23
Seat 1: marshallltd (1,610)
Seat 2: cranmer00 (3,565)
Seat 3: mclarich (2,885)
Seat 4: VVisor (2,895)
Seat 5: dsk403 (7,905)
Seat 6: Petros (3,285)
Seat 7: aisya (8,990)
Seat 8: dame le soldi (5,580)
Seat 9: ramjet12345 (2,690)
aisya posts the small blind of 20
dame le soldi posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [9h 9c]
ramjet12345 calls 40
marshallltd calls 40
cranmer00 folds
mclarich calls 40
VVisor folds
dsk403 has 15 seconds left to act
dsk403 raises to 155
aisya calls 135
dame le soldi has 15 seconds left to act
dame le soldi folds
ramjet12345 calls 115
marshallltd calls 115
mclarich calls 115

I didn't want to invest too much in bad position with 99 so I decided to limp. dsk403 wasn't playing too wildly but had a fairly wide range; a couple hands prior, he min-raised then called a push for 10x more with T9d. His raise was again pretty weak, less than 4xBB with 3 limpers thus far. Once everyone + the SB call, my call is all mathematical.

*** FLOP *** [Jc Jh 7c]
aisya checks
ramjet12345 checks
marshallltd checks
mclarich checks
dsk403 has 15 seconds left to act
dsk403 bets 750

So not only did he bet almost the full pot, he did this very quickly too. (edit: I just realized that he used part of the time bank. For some reason I remembered it being quick. Oh well) He could have something like AJ or KJ, but even the biggest donk would try to squeeze more value out of trips. Add to that the speed of his bet, and it looked like he was just trying to take it down with a c-bet. It seemed fishy to me.

aisya folds
ramjet12345 folds
marshallltd folds
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich has requested TIME
mclarich raises to 1,840
dsk403 has 15 seconds left to act
dsk403: a J or flush draw?
dsk403 has timed out
dsk403 folds
Uncalled bet of 1,090 returned to mclarich
mclarich mucks
mclarich wins the pot (2,315)

So obviously no one else limped in with Jx. I thought about the story he was trying to tell, and more importantly, what kind of story I could tell:

1. My range is fairly huge considering I limp-called preflop
2. I checked on a paired board to the preflop raiser
3. I check-raise the c-bet, but not my full stack

Once I decided to go with the read that he didn't have a jack, I decided to represent that I did. The other reason is that, considering the preflop action, I didn't put him on QQ or greater, so I figured that he had some kind of hand that he could fold.

I also think it helped that I held a pair here, and very well could have had the best hand. My check-raise pretty much commits me if he pushes. However, I didn't just push all in because I felt that would look more like a bluff with a flush draw. In the event he did push, I was calling in case I was up against overcards; if he had a jack, then well-played by him. But I felt pretty confident that I could steal the pot from him; the next step is improving on my ability to make these kind of plays regardless of what I have.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making Decisions

One thing that took me a while to understand about poker is that it's about making the right decisions. Just because you lose doesn't necessarily mean it was the wrong play; conversely, winning doesn't always go hand in hand with making the right play. But more often than not, if you're making the right decisions, you'll become a profitable poker player.

Whether or not I've made the right decisions thus far, I've seen my bankroll grow tremendously since the beginning of the year. I set a goal to build my bankroll up to $2k, and I accomplished that goal by May. Since then, I've spent my time playing poker at higher stakes, with an arguable amount of success. I hit a rough spot recently that forced me to reevaluate some of the decisions I was making, and one decision was to jump down in stakes for a bit while I managed the emotions I dealing with.

Admittedly, the downswing I went through recently was one of the roughest times I've ever had as a poker player. As my bankroll dipped further, so did my confidence in my game. Furthermore, the idea that I had (for me) a large some of money in my account that I was losing at a rapid pace was very troublesome. Despite having a bankroll that was capable of handling bigger swings, I myself was not able to handle that because I kept thinking about just how much money I was losing.

I've alluded to the fact that I've had some financial problems in the past. I've worked hard over the past couple of years to resolve these problems yet still find a way to play poker as often as I'd like. I was lucky enough to balance this conflict by playing all of last year on a $50 deposit I made back in April. Since then, my financial situation started improving; I started making significant dents into my personal debt, including finally paying off my car. But I still have room to do, and having spent the past two & a half months living off unemployment checks, I can't wait until the day that I finally find a new job & start making those dents even bigger.

So the other day, Full Tilt announced a new way to withdraw money - cash pickup. I tried requesting a check for a small amount, which Full Tilt canceled due to processing error. So I tried this new method. I requested a withdrawal late Wednesday night (technically early Thursday morning), and by the afternoon I had the cash in my hand. So that got me thinking....

As it stands today, my bankroll is just a shade under four digits. I've put in two requests for withdrawals, and (if) once they get approved, I will have withdrawn 75% of my bankroll within a week.

And it's probably the best poker decision I've made this year.

When I'm in a better place financially, I can probably deal with the swings that come with higher stakes. I know I'll get back there this year because I have that confidence in my game again. But I also know that, given this opportunity to cash out my bankroll so efficiently, and for such a significant amount, this was the right decision for a debt-laden, unemployed HR professional.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Steps

Sorry about turning this into one depressing-ass bad beat blog the past week or so. It's probably been the toughest week, week & a half of poker in my life. It seriously felt like I couldn't do anything right, even if I was trying.

I won't say that I've turned the corner or anything, but even just the small string of cashes I've had lately has helped make my poker world a bit cheerier this week. No big scores, nothing ground breaking. I've just been slumming at the $10 & $20 games mostly, slowly & surely building my bankroll back up. And I've been having fun doing it too, which is what's most important.

I've played a couple of tournaments lately too, including a rare appearance in the MATH tonight. I hardly ever play 6-max games, and I ended up being the first one out with overpair vs overpair against TripJax. I could have layed it down to his push, leaving me chips to play with, but I wasn't thinking very clearly.

Despite what I said last time, I have ventured back into the cash games. I've made some adjustments to my play, basically playing a bit tighter. I feel like I may have been relying on Holdem Manager a bit too much, playing the stats instead of the cards or the table. I've toned down my 3-betting a bit, cut back on the open-raising, and focused on playing selectively aggressive. I had a decent session tonight, finishing up just over one buyin, mostly due to 77 vs AK on a 7A9 board. Lost a bit when 33 lost to QT on a TT3 flop thanks to running 5s. Then, there was this fun hand:

Full Tilt Poker Game #7228495585: Table Cobble Cove - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 1:50:57 ET - 2008/07/15
Seat 1: iemdavid ($100)
Seat 2: Buckley88 ($106.60)
Seat 3: push on pairs ($132.45)
Seat 4: mclarich ($100)
Seat 5: johnny9x ($45.05)
Seat 6: Zwerk77 ($20)
Seat 7: IScrewINutIBolt ($94.90)
Seat 8: Chris557 ($120.25)
Seat 9: BlackOfSpades ($138.60)
iemdavid posts the small blind of $0.50
Buckley88 posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #9
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Qh Qd]
push on pairs folds
mclarich raises to $3.50
johnny9x folds
Zwerk77 folds
IScrewINutIBolt calls $3.50
Chris557 folds
BlackOfSpades folds
iemdavid adds $0.50
iemdavid folds
Buckley88 calls $2.50
*** FLOP *** [5c Ad Ac]
Buckley88 checks
mclarich bets $7
IScrewINutIBolt calls $7
Buckley88 folds

I c-bet here because I felt that my UTG raise + bet could represent a ace. If I get a caller, I'm shutting down, but QQ could still be the best hand here with no 3-betting preflop. Sure enough, one caller. Time to check-fold.

*** TURN *** [5c Ad Ac] [Kc]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich checks
IScrewINutIBolt bets $10
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich calls $10

Here's where it got interesting for me. The pot is $23 and he only bets $10 into it. It could be a value bet with AK, but it didn't make sense (no 3-bet preflop, call flop, less than 1\2 pot on turn). It seemed weak to me. I called, not thinking I was ahead, but to steal the pot away, representing AK myself.

*** RIVER *** [5c Ad Ac Kc] [3c]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets $35
IScrewINutIBolt: so gay (goodbye!)
IScrewINutIBolt folds
Uncalled bet of $35 returned to mclarich
mclarich mucks
mclarich wins the pot ($42.75)

Some chatter afterwards:

mclarich: gay?
IScrewINutIBolt: running clubs
IScrewINutIBolt: when i crushed that flop
mclarich: with what, 55?
IScrewINutIBolt: AQ
BlackOfSpades: if he crushed that flop with 55 you think he would of folded?
IScrewINutIBolt: yeh honestly
IScrewINutIBolt: i should have just shut down the turn knowing the club would come
mclarich: club or no club the pot was mine
IScrewINutIBolt: then horrible bet on the river
IScrewINutIBolt: if u had ak
IScrewINutIBolt: or flush
IScrewINutIBolt: if not nice bluff (it was, thank you)
mclarich: sorry, didn't know betting the nuts OOP on the river is a bad move
IScrewINutIBolt: u could bet for value
IScrewINutIBolt: its a new theory read up
mclarich: i will
mclarich: or maybe i just read your turn bet as weak and bluffed you

He claims to have folded AQ, obviously without the Qc. This hand wasn't a case, like the KT hand I posted before, where I wasn't sure where I stood and made a questionable play. I really felt confident that I was going to get a fold. What's funny is that it wasn't the AAK board that scared him but the 4th club. If he was scared of the board, and if he has AQ, he has to put me on EXACTLY the same hand he had, but with AxQc, right? If I'm not bluffing, what clubs does he put me on if I'm UTG raising? QJc? QTc? And I'd have to have the Qc to bet that river, assuming that I'm betting the river with the nut flush on an AAKxx board. So I call bullshit on his AQ; maybe he had an A, but I don't see AQ. Anyways, if he bets the turn any harder, I fold, but I really felt his turn bet was one of weakness rather than of value. For once, I was right.

Anyways, I feel like I've talked myself down off the ledge, for now. I clearly wasn't playing my top game the past several days. Seeing my bankroll tumble down so quickly really did a number on me. I've noticed a difference the past day or two, at least emotionally & mentally. Of course, it helps that some of my hands are starting to hold up again. I don't doubt that this won't be the last downswing I go on, nor am I ready to declare that this one is officially over. But I feel like I'm handling it better, and I'm ready to start climbing back.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I don't know how much more of this I can take. All of this from tonight:

Full Tilt Poker Game #7187787536: $24 + $2 KO Sit & Go (54645794), Table 4 - 25/50 - No Limit Hold'em - 5:35:01 ET - 2008/07/12
Seat 1: eimajedward (5,585)
Seat 2: tough_horns (3,215)
Seat 3: Crab Man 12 (2,190)
Seat 4: PSYCHOPARANOID (1,910)
Seat 6: dv8shand (940)
Seat 7: JaahasPaahas (6,425)
Seat 8: mclarich (6,185)
Seat 9: pokvir (13,130)
PSYCHOPARANOID posts the small blind of 25
dv8shand posts the big blind of 50
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [As Ts]
JaahasPaahas folds
mclarich raises to 175
pokvir calls 175
eimajedward calls 175
tough_horns has 15 seconds left to act
tough_horns folds
Crab Man 12 folds
dv8shand folds
*** FLOP *** [5s Kc Js]
mclarich bets 400
pokvir calls 400
eimajedward has 15 seconds left to act
eimajedward raises to 5,410, and is all in
mclarich calls 5,010
pokvir folds
eimajedward shows [7d Kd] (Against TP7K I'm actually ahead)
mclarich shows [As Ts]
*** TURN *** [5s Kc Js] [Kh]
*** RIVER *** [5s Kc Js Kh] [4d]
eimajedward shows three of a kind, Kings
mclarich shows a pair of Kings
eimajedward wins the pot (11,820) with three of a kind, Kings

Full Tilt Poker Game #7187853917: $20 + $2 Sit & Go (54648093), Table 1 - 40/80 - No Limit Hold'em - 5:47:23 ET - 2008/07/12
Seat 2: mclarich (3,295)
Seat 3: VincentMastro (3,290)
Seat 5: Ffransis (1,350)
Seat 6: MeezySolid (850)
Seat 7: DurtyBurd83 (375)
Seat 9: Zuko27 (4,340)
VincentMastro posts the small blind of 40
Ffransis posts the big blind of 80
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Ad Ac]
MeezySolid folds
DurtyBurd83 folds
Zuko27 has 15 seconds left to act
Zuko27 raises to 160
mclarich raises to 560
VincentMastro folds
Ffransis folds
Zuko27 calls 400
*** FLOP *** [7d Js 5s]
Zuko27 has 15 seconds left to act
Zuko27 bets 1,240
mclarich raises to 2,735, and is all in
Zuko27 calls 1,495
mclarich shows [Ad Ac]
Zuko27 shows [Ts Jd]
*** TURN *** [7d Js 5s] [6s]
*** RIVER *** [7d Js 5s 6s] [3s]
mclarich shows a pair of Aces
Zuko27 shows a flush, Jack high
Zuko27 wins the pot (6,710) with a flush, Jack high
mclarich stands up

Full Tilt Poker Game #7187045240: $11 + $1 Sit & Go (Turbo) (54640748), Table 1 - 200/400 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:30:48 ET - 2008/07/12
Seat 1: Korrea (1,310)
Seat 3: Position 15 (3,130)
Seat 5: geminis100 (1,700)
Seat 6: mclarich (3,420)
Seat 7: gerdim (2,060)
Seat 9: fuzzyiam (1,880)
mclarich posts the small blind of 200
gerdim posts the big blind of 400
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Kh Ad]
fuzzyiam folds
Korrea folds
Position 15 raises to 3,130, and is all in
geminis100 folds
mclarich calls 2,930
gerdim folds
Position 15 shows [Ks Jc]
mclarich shows [Kh Ad]
*** FLOP *** [4c 4h 2s]
*** TURN *** [4c 4h 2s] [Jd]
*** RIVER *** [4c 4h 2s Jd] [6h]
Position 15 shows two pair, Jacks and Fours
mclarich shows a pair of Fours
Position 15 wins the pot (6,660) with two pair, Jacks and Fours

I'm so close to withdrawing most of my bankroll. A $1500 downswing via $20 SNGs and $.50\$1 cash games is just fucking ridiculous, even for a donkey like me. It's not worth it to me to keep pissing away hundreds of dollars like this; my lifestyle can't support it. Yes, I did have a could hands hold up, and even cracked AA with KJ with a 5-outer on the river, but when it comes to getting my money in with the best hand, this has been standard for about a week now.

I've pissed away a $3000 bankroll once before, a couple of years ago. I'm not letting that happen again. If my bankroll dips to $3100 or below, I'm cashing out $3k and starting from scratch again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back To The Grind

First, let's get the really important stuff out of the way. Congrats to Iggy for making it to Day 4. I wonder if his stack is big enough yet that he can stand on it & see the table. Keep it up!

Anyways, now for the rest of my babble.

There was a time, years ago, when I didn't play poker at all. I still found ways to enjoy life. I caught the bug a couple of years ago, and now poker has become one of my favorite hobbies, if not the favorite.

The last couple of days, evident in my most recent posts, poker has become a soul-sucking grind. With no job to waste my time at, and a fucked up sleep schedule that sees me waking up as late as noon & going to bed as late at 5am sometimes, I've passed the time withering away in my not-very-comfortable chair, clicking away at my surprisingly resilient mouse, watching my imaginary nest egg ebb & flow. Sometimes, I don't even muster enough energy to put on a full set of clothes (although, with all due apologies, you won't be getting any Waffles-esque pictures from me. But please indulge me and keep reading anyways.)

I think I finally realized when I hit that point where I wasn't enjoying this hobby. It wasn't after the session where I pissed away $500 in a flurry of bad beats and unrealized tilt. It wasn't last night (or I guess early this morning) when I ran second best hands into better hands.

No, it was a couple days prior, when I finished second in a 5-table SNG for $200. After reading about Jamy's recent conquest at the $75 stakes, I took the plunge at the $26 level, only to find the fields softer than marshmallow breasts. UTG raises with K7c. Check-raising with nothing but runner-runner draws. Whereas I was used to folding the JackAce to early aggression, I now started agonizing over these decisions, thinking that I may actually be folding the nuts against these players.

That second place finish was my 2nd cash in 6 tried at these games, and that score put my bankroll at just over $4800, the high-water mark for me EVER. Additionally, if I consider that I pulled out $500 less than a week prior, we're talking about a hypothetical bankroll of over $5k for me. Earlier this year, I set a goal of working up to a $2K bankroll. Lofty, but fairly attainable. Now I'm working with a bankroll of more than twice that amount?

This was around the time that the dollar-sign fairies started dancing around in my head. I probably should have felt satisfied with what I had, considering where I've been, but I was craving more. I wasn't even at $5k before I started think $6k, $7k. What about 5 figures? What if, what if, what if.

This streak I'm on, over a $1k downswing, isn't the first for me. A month ago, I worked my bankroll up to $4k during my first foray into the cash games at the $1\$2 level. It didn't take long for me to donk that down all the way to $2600, and yet I was hardly fazed. I was still grateful that I had that much left.

What makes this streak feel so different is that, as I began working it all bank up and then some, I started expecting this to become the norm. The FTP tables were my personal ATM, except that it didn't spit out cash but instead checks that took 10-15 days to get to you and may or may not be cashed (I got an email today from FTP saying that my check wasn't affected but I'm still suspicious). When I started giving money away instead of taking it, it was like I was being told I wasn't IronMan. What the fuck do you mean I'm not IronMan? I've even got the silly little badge to prove it. But I'm not IronMan, I'm not impervious to these downswings, and I'm not going to be able to handle them if I think that I'm entitled to constantly have an ever-growing bankroll.

Which brings me back to my pre-poker life. Kind of.

I don't think it's a break that I need, nor do I think I need to jump down a level (at least, not just yet). But what I do need to do is infuse some of my other hobbies back into my life. I was smart enough to escape Arizona for the wonderful summers of Seattle; why am I spending all my days indoors? How have I not managed to take a single shot on the B-ball courts yet? If I want to sleep all day, why can't I go do it passed out under a tree somewhere? Just because I don't have a job right now doesn't mean I need to convert my biggest hobby into my new job. Especially when it's not necessarily paying very well these days. But that's exactly what I was doing. I was playing with the mindset that I should conquer every table, that I should be finishing every session up at least a buyin, that I was going to piss all over the donkeys at the 5-table SNGs and be rolling around in the money. Or at least rolling around on the floor looking at that number on my monitor.

So that's how I solve this problem, I guess. Get back to treating poker as something I do for fun, for entertainment, not as a way to make money. Sure, I like the money-making aspect of it. That's what makes it relevant, challenging, rewarding. Otherwise, I could jump on the play money tables until my heart's content. But I'm not going to get caught up in how much my bankroll is. It's not important that I make it grow as fast as I can; that's not how I got to where I'm at now. It's about playing smartly with that bankroll and relying on it to sustain my ability to play online.

But I'm going to make a couple changes for now. First, I'm stepping away from the cash games for a bit. I don't think I can handle any more swings right now. I found myself tilting again after getting my money in bad a couple times. I reloaded, then caught myself and sat out. Instead, I sat down at a $22 turbo SNG and promptly took first.

That's the other change; getting back to SNGs. And not the crazy super turbo ones either. Of course, I'm singing a different tune than before, now that my ROI has dropped considerably, which I guess is expected. But for someone like me, who's struggling through a downswing, the last thing I need to do is continually play "push & pray" poker. Instead I need to get back to what got me here in the first place: standard SNGs and MTTs. I didn't set my goal of a $2k bankroll to jump into cash games. I took a shot since I had some money to play with, but SNGs are my bread & butter. I need to find that comfortable place again, so I'm going back to what I know best.

I guess that's the plan. Poker at night, play in the daytime. Tomorrow, I skip the virtual felt and head to the gym to get some miles in as I prepare for my first half-marathon in October. Maybe I'll even head down to a basketball court to start working on getting my shot back. Hopefully the bad beats don't follow me all the way there; otherwise, I may end up like Mr. Two Thumbs.

Seriously, that's one fucked up pinky.

The Junk Kicking Continues

Just a heads up. This is a really long post. 4 hand histories is probably too much. Oh well.

So this really is a bad beat post, but I'm going to disguise it in the form of a hand history post. Although my bankroll is still very much alive and $300 more than it was after I requested a check from FTP about 10 days ago, It's almost $1k below it's high water mark last week.

My session started off well when someone paid me off when I had nuts.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7160280903: Table Gentle Falls - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:04:21 ET - 2008/07/10
Seat 1: McAuliffe ($173.40)
Seat 2: mclarich ($98.50)
Seat 3: jarred blits ($220.55)
Seat 4: PokerN00B1E ($100.75)
Seat 5: ugly24 ($259.30), is sitting out
Seat 6: britesorb ($62)
Seat 7: Pabst Dry ($109.65)
Seat 8: mazzler ($116.70)
Seat 9: needtoowin ($188.25)
jarred blits posts the small blind of $0.50
PokerN00B1E posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Ah 8h]
britesorb folds
Pabst Dry folds
mazzler folds
needtoowin raises to $3
McAuliffe folds
mclarich calls $3
jarred blits folds
PokerN00B1E folds

I didn't have any information on this guy, but on the button with a suited A, I decided to see a flop.

*** FLOP *** [Kd 2h 4h]
needtoowin bets $3
mclarich raises to $9
needtoowin calls $6

I figured smooth calling here might seem more like a draw, so I raised instead. If I face a lot of resistance, I probably fold, chalking it up to AK.

*** TURN *** [Kd 2h 4h] [9h]
needtoowin checks
mclarich bets $18
needtoowin calls $18

I make my flush on the turn and stick with the theme that I've got a strong K. Can't see why he's still calling but I don't mind.

*** RIVER *** [Kd 2h 4h 9h] [3h]
needtoowin bets $25
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich raises to $68.50, and is all in
needtoowin calls $43.50

Obviously he's not folding now, must be on the K-high flush.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
mclarich shows [Ah 8h] a flush, Ace high
needtoowin mucked [Kh Jc] - a flush, King high
mclarich wins the pot ($195.50) with a flush, Ace high

That was my 3rd hand at that table - a nice way to begin the evening. But it didn't last that long. Here's the fallout from another table.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7160482364: Table Hauck - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:34:13 ET - 2008/07/10
Seat 1: iluvharisu ($104.10)
Seat 2: LivesUndrBridge ($102.75)
Seat 3: dikemp ($103)
Seat 4: kouun ($124.50)
Seat 5: mclarich ($100)
Seat 6: mazzler ($216.55)
Seat 7: TheWakko ($106.65)
Seat 8: LauraMac9900 ($100)
Seat 9: meatyballz85 ($110.10)
TheWakko posts the small blind of $0.50
LauraMac9900 posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Ad 8d]
meatyballz85 folds
iluvharisu folds
LivesUndrBridge folds
dikemp folds
kouun raises to $4
mclarich calls $4
mazzler has 15 seconds left to act
mazzler folds
TheWakko folds
LauraMac9900 has 15 seconds left to act
LauraMac9900 calls $3

Again, I decide to see a flop with another suited Ace and end up in position. If I flop the Ace, I'm willing to fold to aggression if I think I'm up against a bigger Ace.

*** FLOP *** [4d 8h Ac]
LauraMac9900 bets $7
kouun folds
mclarich raises to $24
LauraMac9900 has 15 seconds left to act
LauraMac9900 calls $17

Again, I know nothing about this player as well, but it's a hell of a flop for me. There's very few hands that beat me, and I'm probably getting paid off against a bigger Ace.

*** TURN *** [4d 8h Ac] [7c]
LauraMac9900 checks
mclarich bets $72, and is all in
LauraMac9900 calls $72, and is all in
mclarich shows [Ad 8d]
LauraMac9900 shows [4s 4h]

I go for the OBFV and instead find myself pretty far behind. I don't know if I could have found a way to fold this given the way the hand played out.

*** RIVER *** [4d 8h Ac 7c] [4c]
mclarich shows two pair, Aces and Eights
LauraMac9900 shows four of a kind, Fours
LauraMac9900 wins the pot ($201.50) with four of a kind, Fours

That last 4 was pretty unnecessary.

I was able to recover about half that loss 2 hands later when AA held up against KK. Unfortunately, I didn't get completely paid since I was up against a tight player who didn't get overly aggressive.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7160503541: Table Hauck - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:37:32 ET - 2008/07/10
Seat 1: iluvharisu ($102.60)
Seat 2: LivesUndrBridge ($101.75)
Seat 3: dikemp ($103)
Seat 4: kouun ($120.50)
Seat 5: mclarich ($100)
Seat 6: mazzler ($219.55)
Seat 7: TheWakko ($107.65)
Seat 8: LauraMac9900 ($201)
Seat 9: meatyballz85 ($108.60)
LivesUndrBridge posts the small blind of $0.50
dikemp posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Ac Ah]
kouun raises to $4
mclarich calls $4
mazzler has 15 seconds left to act
mazzler folds
TheWakko folds
LauraMac9900 folds
meatyballz85 folds
iluvharisu calls $4
LivesUndrBridge folds
dikemp has 15 seconds left to act
dikemp folds

The table was playing pretty tight, and I felt that reraising UTG+1 was too obvious. I liked having iluvharisu call; he was a fairly tight player and I would be able to figure out where I stand fairly easily.

*** FLOP *** [7s 5s 8c]
kouun checks
mclarich bets $9
iluvharisu calls $9
kouun folds

I knew iluvharisu was pretty tight with a PFR% of 3 and only one 3-bet in over 900 hands. But he also like to smooth call a fair amount, although mostly in limped or min-raised pots. I probably should have bet more here.

*** TURN *** [7s 5s 8c] [3s]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets $20
iluvharisu calls $20

Not the best turn card for me. The smooth call on the turn doesn't really tell me much that I didn't already learn from the flop. I'm perfectly capable of folding to aggression here but harisu won't raise me even with a scare card hitting.

*** RIVER *** [7s 5s 8c 3s] [Qh]
mclarich has 15 seconds left to act
mclarich bets $21
iluvharisu calls $21

OK, here's my reasoning on the river bet. I'm still ahead of a lot of hands that harisu would call down with, but also beat by a couple as well. I figure that if harisu makes a big bet on the river, I have to fold. If she bets small, I'll call. So I bet an amount that I would be willing to call down with. If I'm raised, despite the pot odds, I was ready to fold.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
mclarich shows [Ac Ah] a pair of Aces
iluvharisu mucked [Kd Ks] - a pair of Kings
mclarich wins the pot ($110.50) with a pair of Aces

Shame, because if it was a player who 3-bet preflop, that money's going in on the flop. Probably some issues with bet-sizing again on my part but I was trying to figure out the best way to play cautiously yet get paid off by a lesser hand.

Here's the other hand that did me in. Obviously I could have played this differently and perhaps found someplace to fold but it'd still be tough.

Full Tilt Poker Game #7160630804: Table Hauck - $0.50/$1 - No Limit Hold'em - 3:58:36 ET - 2008/07/10
Seat 1: iluvharisu ($100)
Seat 2: LivesUndrBridge ($128.85)
Seat 3: dikemp ($111.65)
Seat 4: Wazzamaniak ($17.80)
Seat 5: mclarich ($153.60)
Seat 6: nellie1972 ($101.40)
Seat 7: TheWakko ($109.70)
Seat 8: LauraMac9900 ($218.80)
Seat 9: meatyballz85 ($87.60)
Wazzamaniak posts the small blind of $0.50
mclarich posts the big blind of $1
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Qc Qs]
nellie1972 folds
TheWakko has 15 seconds left to act
TheWakko folds
LauraMac9900 folds
meatyballz85 folds
iluvharisu calls $1
LivesUndrBridge raises to $4
dikemp has 15 seconds left to act
dikemp folds
Wazzamaniak folds
mclarich calls $3
iluvharisu calls $3

Obviously, there's an argument that I should 3bet this from the BB to find out where I'm at. Instead, I play it a bit for deception value, but able to fold if an A or a K hits and there's action.

*** FLOP *** [2s 9c Jh]
mclarich checks
iluvharisu checks
LivesUndrBridge bets $8
mclarich raises to $25
iluvharisu adds $4
iluvharisu folds
LivesUndrBridge has 15 seconds left to act
LivesUndrBridge calls $17

Not a bad flop for me. LivesUndrBridge puts in the expected cbet so I check-raise. The smooth call is a bit of a concern but I figured it would be more likely that if he had me beat, the money would go in here.

*** TURN *** [2s 9c Jh] [7h]
mclarich bets $62
LivesUndrBridge raises to $99.85, and is all in
Wazzamaniak adds $4
mclarich calls $37.85
LivesUndrBridge shows [Ad As]
mclarich shows [Qc Qs]

The turn isn't a very scary card, and I can't see check-folding at this point, so the money goes in.

*** RIVER *** [2s 9c Jh 7h] [7d]
LivesUndrBridge shows two pair, Aces and Sevens
mclarich shows two pair, Queens and Sevens
LivesUndrBridge wins the pot ($259.20) with two pair, Aces and Sevens

For the most part, I don't see how I'm getting away from that hand at any point. That's what makes this losing streak so difficult; sure, there's a handful of instances where I've spewed money playing hands badly, but more often, I'm either getting coolered like above, or sucked out on badly (AJ > AK, JJ > QQ). I know bad beat stories are a dime a dozen, so I won't trouble you with anymore, but suffice it to say that it's been a rough couple of days.

After the mouse-throwing incident, my girlfriend suggested that maybe a break is in order. Perhaps it would be helpful, but I don't really know. I feel like I've been more diligent at the tables and really cut down on some of the mistakes I was making previously. I'm not in the object-throwing mindset anymore, although the beats are still wearing on me somewhat. I feel like I just need to work through this, and sooner or later, the cards will catch up to me.

I'm also wondering if I need to drop down in stakes. Right now I'm just under 40 buyins at the $.50\$1 level. I believe I can still handle the monetary part of the swings a bit longer. I've worked hard to get my bankroll up over $4k, and it does affect me mentally each time I've seen it drop below that, so perhaps I do need to step down a bit, I dunno.

I guess I'm just looking for advice here, whether it be about how I'm playing or the emotional side of it. I know I could be much worse off & be back to grinding it out at $5 SNGs, but it's hard not to get caught up in this. From the middle of May to last week, I've been on a upstreak of more than $2k. I started feeling like I was turning the corner, imagining bigger & brighter things. Right now, it's hard to envision all that as being nothing more than a mirage.

Monday, July 07, 2008

OK, I Guess You Could Say I'm On Tilt

There's a dent on the wall, just above my monitor. It's new, it happened about 10 minutes ago, when I chucked my mouse at it. It's not horribly big, but it's noticeable. I feel bad about it now, and I'm not looking forward to people asking me about it.

"Hey, how did that get there?"
"AJ lost to 77 when he 4-flushed me."

I don't know if it's fallout from the $500 lost I spoke about last post or what, but I'm totally off my game in every single way possible. I'm winning small pots & losing big ones. I'm playing hands about as best as possible & as worst as possible. I'm getting tricky when ABC will do just fine, but I feel like I'm also being read like a book. Every continuation bet is being called if it's not being raised, unless I have a strong hand, and then they're just folding. I'm playing big pairs for deception to build a pot, only to let my opponent get a 2-outer, then refusing to fold when the only thing I beat is a bluff.

It's not all bad play though, there's also plenty of junk-kicking going on too (see AJ vs 77 above, plus countless other stories I'll spare you from). The consequence is that my bankroll has taken an $800 dive since the end of last week. Granted, the end of last week was very good, and I'm still up $400 since last Saturday, but that doesn't really provide me much solace right now.

I've spent most of my time playing the $.50\$1 games, and as you've seen from my recent posts, I'm still figuring these games out. I've made some adjustments (including no more limp-calling OOP with weak hands - can't believe I ever thought that was a good idea). One adjustment I still need to make is learning to fold an overpair when I'm most likely beat. It's easier to do when it's 88 or 99 on a low board, but when it's something like KK or QQ, it becomes tougher. I know I need to fold but I'm not doing it.

I know this will change. My hands will hold up, I'll be the once catching the outs, and I'll stop playing hands like a jackass. The first two just have to happen mathematically, that last one is one me. Getting into a different mindset will help. I've let the beats affect me more than they should. I need to look at the positives; my bankroll is still intact & more than double what I set for my goal this year, I'm still showing a good profit at the $.50\$1 level, and I know many of the mistakes I need to correct.

In the meantime, I probably should consider getting a mouse with a cord instead of sticking with the wireless.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Back To Earth (bad beat content)

It's 4am. Pretty much standard for me these days, with no job to worry about. I'd been riding high the past couple of days, poker wise. I had worked my bankroll up to an all time high. But tonight, that all came crashing down.

Well, I guess it's not all that bad. This isn't some post about going busto. I've still got a very workable bankroll. Tonight has just been my biggest downswing in a while, about 4 buyins. All at the hands of AK.

1st AK: Some guy who's Limp-Call stat was a perfect 100 decided to min raise preflop. He's only about 1\2 a buyin so I just shove. He instacalls with A9s. Flop comes 9 with 2 spades & I can't find a 2-outer.

2nd AK: Folds to button who had been stealing actively. I was feeling frisky so I just shove from the BB. Button shows AA. Not that it would have mattered since the flop came K-high anyways.

3rd AK: VERY next hand. MP raises, 2 callers, I don't have time to reload from the last one so I shove my last $40 in. MP shows AA. Fawk.

4th AK: UTG raises standard. I'm next and I decide to just call for a flop. Flop is KJ9. Bet, raise. Turn is a Q. Check, check. River is an A and he bets 1\2 pot. Can't fold, can I? I call, he shows JT.

It was just a perfect storm. I shove middle pair with nut flush draw into top 2 pair that boats on the turn. I flop top set on spade board after calling BB 3bet in position & call his shove needing to fade a 4th spade against AcQs. River is a spade. Blah blah, bad beats galore.

The good news is that I didn't let myself get tilted once. The bad news is that I let myself play like a donk the rest of the night & started spewing all night. I guess that sounds like tilt, but it's different in my head. I wasn't doing it because I was pissed or because I was in that "win it all back mode". I was doing it because I just didn't give a fuck anymore. I was trying to play hyper-aggressive tonight, but it was more like me being an ATM.

Anyways, it's time for bed. The downswing is close to $500. I think I might just shove my last $30 in randomly and call it a night. I don't know how much poker I'll be getting in this weekend, but I'll probably give myself some time to shake off tonight's losses & regroup on Monday. Have a good weekend everyone, and good luck to the donkeys in the ME.

P.S. My last $30 is gone after 22 < KK. Lame.