Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How to Win in NL Holdem Cash Games

I am going to let the cat out of the bag here maybe, so I apologize up front. The secret to winning in NL cash games is not to lose. WTF?? I am serious here. If you can do a good job of not losing, you will be a winner. WTF kind of advice is this? It is some good advice so listen up.

If you can limit your losses when you don't have the best hand, or the best draw this will translate directly into winning. I am not talking about playing scared weak poker. I am talking about keeping your money on the table and in your bankroll so you can extract some winnings when you have the best of it. In NL Holdem cash games, you really need to grind your way slowly up. If you make a big mistake and lose your stack, it will take a long time to recover what you lost. Don't do this. Big hands will always determine your session's success. Make sure that the big hands are winners and not losers and you will be successful. OK, so how do you avoid losing.

Play +EV starting hands:
Play hands preflop that have a positive expectation from the position you are playing them. Different players play different hands differently, so I cant give you a list of hands to play here. Get PokerTracker, and play a bunch of hands in the style you normally play. Then list your starting hands by profit/hand. The hands that show a profit on average are the hands you should be playing. You will need to tweak your selection a little based on table position, but this is a good guideline. In general, all pocket pairs, AK, and two suited/connected big cards will be +EV. Also take a look at the hands that you lose the most with. These will usually be small suited connectors, small suited Aces, and Ace little. Stop playing these hands from out of position, or just stop playing them altogether. Some players will purposely play -EV hands (the hammer for example), but this is done on purpose to increase the +EV of the good hands. This is an expert play, that I would not recommend (unless you are an expert).

Don't get involved in Big Pots with just a Pair:
The single biggest mistake you can make in NL Holdem cash games is to play a massive pot with just a pair. You get AA, or KK and raise to protect it, but get a bunch of callers. The flop is low so you have an overpair. You make the continuation bet, and out comes a reraise. This situation will make or break you as a winning player. You have to be willing to fold here (same when you start with AK and flop an A or a K). I am not saying this is an automatic fold, but you need to recognize their is a good chance you are already way behind. You need to tank here, and evaluate the player doing this to you. Figure that you will be playing this hand for your entire stack if you continue. Is the reraiser a big or little stack? I would be more inclined to play on with a little stack. Is the raiser a winning or losing player? I would be more inclined to play on with a losing player that may be getting out of line here. Have you seen this guy make a reraise bluff before, or do this with middle pair or a draw? Just simply stop and think, and give yourself a chance to fold. When I get a big pocket pair, one of the first things I am thinking is "Don't lose your entire stack on this hand".

Don't Draw Without the Proper Pot-odds/Implied odds:
You need to learn the math. After the flop if someone comes out swinging and you have a good draw, see if you have odds to draw to the turn alone. Don't assume that you will see the river cheaply. Bet your draws to slowdown the made hands, and to get free cards when in position. Make sure that you are not drawing to the ass end of the straight when the top end is a likely holding. Make sure that you are drawing to the nuts or near nuts. Outside straight draws are worth much less if there is a flush draw out there or the board is paired. Flush draws are worth much less when the board is paired or your flush cards are low. Don't draw to gutshots. Don't draw to overs (unless you are getting a real good price).

Be Careful Value Betting on the River:
"Don't make a bet that can only be called by a better hand". You may have heard this one before. Live by this if you can. Lets say you have been betting top pair/top kicker in position all the way down. The river card comes and it fills in a flush draw, or makes for obvious straight possibilities, or the board pairs. Now you get checked to for the third time post flop. Be extremely careful here and think about checking behind. If you do decide to bet, be willing to fold to a reraise. Your opponent can easily check his made draw to you on the river assuming you will bet. When your value bet gets reraised you are in big trouble. Good players will make a big check raise bluff here sometimes and bet you off your winner. Don't get greedy, and check behind in these situations.

Raise Preflop:
WTF, how is this going to save me from losing? It saves you by limiting the competition when you are playing a non drawing type hand. Big pairs and AK require a raise to limit the competition to 1 or 2 others. If too many people come, you could be taking a huge risk that someone hits the flop big, and will take your stack. Raising preflop gets you information on your opponents holdings. Limping does nothing. By all means, limp with drawing type hands (suited connectors, small pocket pairs). When you hit the flop with these, you can be pretty sure you are good. When you miss the flop with QQ in an unraised 6 way pot, who knows where you are at. It could get expensive finding out post flop. Remember this quote "Don't go broke in an unraised pot". It will save you $$$$.

Bluff Only in the Correct Situations:
To be a winning player at NL Holdem, you must bluff from time to time. However, it is very easy to take this too far and make bluffing -EV. You don't want to bluff into a large field. The more opponents that you have, the more chances your bluff will get called by a real hand. Your chances of success are directly proportional to the number of opponents in the pot. Bluff at the pot after you have raised preflop and missed. This represents a big pair, and is believable. Bluff post flop when it is checked around to you and you are last to act. No one has shown interest in the pot, so it yours for the taking. However, be aware of how many people are still in the pot, and don't do it everytime, or you may start getting check raised. Bluff when the board gets scary, and you can't put the others on a draw to the available board. When the board is real scary, often the first to bet will take it down. Don't bluff at massive pots. It will be hard to get someone to lay down a decent hand when the pot gets big. Make a good size bet if you plan on bluffing. If you bluff a small amount, and give your opponent drawing odds, you will get called. You want to be aggressive post flop, but it is so easy to take it to far. Experiment and find the correct level of aggressiveness so that bluffing does not cost you more than it is worth. I will stop here on bluffing, and have only scratched the surface of the topic. The point is bluffing at the wrong times will make you lose more money.

Be Willing To Make A Big Laydown on the River:
You may have flopped a good hand, but just could not shake off the competition with your post flop betting. Now on the river, one of the callers comes out firing. You need to tank here and consider folding. This could be a bluff, but often you have been slow played, and are beat. Look at what you have, what's on the board, how the betting went, who your opponent is, and make a good decision. Winning players win more then 1/2 of their showdowns. If you are calling down on the river to much with the worst of it, you will not be a winning player. Also don't overcall on the river ever. An overcall is when someone bets, and someone calls then you call. It takes a better hand to call with then to bet. The initial better saying he's got a hand. The initial caller is saying he's got a better hand. If you think your hand is even better, you should be ready to push-in. If you don't you should fold. It is rare that calling an overbet on the river is correct.

OK, I have tried to explain ways to avoid losing in NL cash games. The money that you don't lose is money that you win. It's exactly the same. If you are good at extracting maximum value when you are ahead, you will win more, but not if you are giving up to much when your behind. How to extract maximum value is a whole different topic. I try my best to extract maximum value, but I'm not sure if I am ready to write on this yet. See doubleas/pressure points for some hints on extraction.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Dog Fest in the 2006 NCAA Tourney

Did anyone else notice how well the dogs are doing in this years tournament. All four dogs covered in the round of 8, and 6 out of 8 covered in the round of 16. If you would have blindly put your money on the dogs you would have been right in the last 10/12 games played. I guess parity is here in the mens college basketball. I would imagine that most peoples brackets are fucked at this point with no number one seeds making it to the final four. Pathetic!

I wish people would stop saying that the George Mason's victory should go down as the biggest upset ever in the tournament. That's BS! George Mason is a very good team (though not very deep), and Conneticut was way over rated. You don't need to be that deep in televised tournament games because all the TV timouts lets your starters rest. I think GM went with the same 5 players for the last 12 minutes of regulation. If GM was so overmatched, you would think that Conneticut would have taken them out easy in overtime, after ripping there hearts out on the last second tying reverse lay-up. Not to happen. GM kept playing their game in OT and took care of an over rated Conneticut team who could not beat an 11 seed.

Who do I like to win it all? Florida. They have looked the best all the what through. I don't think it will be a cakewalk against GM, but I think they will get through and beat UCLA in the finals. Bet on it!

Friday, March 24, 2006

1, 2, 3 Hands Your Out

I played in the Heads-up Challenge 3 last night, and made a quick exit after only three hands. Having said that, I don't really think I played that badly. See the recap below, it is pretty brief.

I draw smokkee for my first match. I have played with smokkee many times before. He loves to impress me with his over-aggression. We have also discussed heads-up strategy before, so I actually was not too worried about the match-up and figured I would have a decent shot. I figured he would be applying relentless pressure raising and reraising me preflop on every hand, and trying to push me off hands after the flop. This is a pretty predictable way of playing, so it is fairly easy to counter.

First hand, I get 54s the SB and raise 3x (60). Smokkee reraises to 160 and I go in the tank. I was hoping for just a call, as this hand will not hold up without improvement. I decide to fold. Next hand I get 84o in the BB, and smokkee raises 3x into me and I fold. I am certain that smokkee will raise or reraise with 100% of his holdings preflop now. I am going to need to find a hand I can take a stand with, and play back at him big time to get him to slow down. I like pushing-in early in heads-up just to show that you are capable of the move.

Third hand is ducks (22) in the SB. I limp knowing that smokkee will raise. Raise he does. With this small of a pair, I will not have many options post flop. Its about 16-1 that smokkee has a pocket pair that would dominate me, and his raise means nothing. He will have a coinflip with any other holdings. If I push all-in I will get some folding equity, prove that I am willing to play back at him big time, and if I am called I figure I have the good side of a coinflip for the match right here. I push all-in over the top. smokkee calls immediately with 33. WTF. Wow, he did have a pocket pair which was a longshot. Not really sure how he makes that call. I just limp raised him all-in. He has to figure I have a pocket pair or at least two overs. For pocket pairs (other than ducks), he is dominated. For overs he is looking at a coinflip for the match. I would have put me on 50% higher pp, 50% overs witch makes this a horrible call. He made the call though, and the 33 held up. Nice job smokkee.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Hate It When This Happens

Well at least I had outs after the flop.

Hammering The Hilton Sisters

I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Good Cash Players Guide To Qualifying For The WSOP

I will be playing in the $2,000 buy-in NL holdem event on July 1st at the WSOP. This is an undisputed fact. The question is what is the best way to qualify. Last year PokerStars offered direct buy-ins to all of the WSOP events through their website. This is how I want to do it. I don't want to go wait in some line to sign-up and find out that it is full or something. I also want the free swag that PokerStars will obviously give you to represent with. Now on PokerStars you can use $W or actual dollars to buy-in to WSOP events. My plan was to generate as much $W as possible and then supplement any shortfall with real dollars. The problem I have is what is the best and most profitable way to obtain $Ws. Unfortunately, all of the low buy-in WSOP satellites on PokerStars are turbos. I don't really like turbo's as they take a lot of the skill element away, and it usually gets to an all-in crapshoot at the end as the bubble approaches. I do like the flat payout that comes with the satellites. I could play a lot of the 2+R turbos and earn 33 $W a pop, but they start at bad times for me. The most appealing satellite I think for me is the 25+R (non-turbo) to the $650 buy-in. If I can win three of those, my seat is practically paid for. Here is the problem.

I have mainly played cash games lately for a variety of reasons. First, you can play whenever you want, and for as long as you want. I don't have to adjust my schedule for a tournament start time, and then be committed to a tournament for an undetermined amount of time. I like to play for 1-2 hours at a time. 4-tabling is very tiring on the brain, and I seem to do best when I keep the sessions relatively short. After a short break, I'm back at it, but you don't get long breaks in online tournaments. Another reason, is you don't have to constantly make the adjustments a tournament requires. Am I short stacked or large stacked? Are the blinds getting huge? Am I near the bubble? Should I push All-In with ducks here because I am getting low and this is the best I have seen in a while. While I know how to make these adjustments, it is more difficult then sitting at a cash game where none of this really comes into play. The last reason is that cash games are simply more profitable for me. I do pretty good in the $20-30 18 player S&Gs, but MTTs just don't pay as much per hour of play. The problem is the payout is so top heavy, you need to make a lot of final tables. So for example in a 300 player MTT you need a top 9 finish for a decent payout. If you were an "average" player, and against all "average" players, this would happen like 1 / 33 times. So lets say your better than average and you could final table 1/16 times. That's a lot of time spent in 16 tournaments for your big payout. You just can't make as much at it as you can in cash games playing these tournaments. That is unless you play the higher stakes. Say $100+ buy-in tourneys. Ok, there you could make more, but now forget about playing the average player. So unless you are real good, you won't make more there anyway. And if you are that good, why not move up to higher stakes cash games.

Now lets look at the $25+R qualifier. Lets assume that I go in for 1 buy-in+1 rebuy, and 1 add-on on average. I'm investing $77 per try. Lets also assume that 4 buy-ins is average for everyone else. So 1 seat per 6.5 entries, and about 4 hours to the money. Lets say I can win 1 /5 trys (im better than average, plus I'm buying in for less than average). Lets also assume that it's 3 hours per try. It's a rebuy so I'm going 2 hours at least and 4 hours to win. So I play for 15 hours, buy in for $77x5=$385, and win $650. A profit of $265 in 15 hours of work or $17.50/hour. Well currently I am making $70-80/hr in the cash games. Assuming that this is higher than it should be (my sample size is still low at $1/2), and my real rate is closer to $60/hr, this is not my most profitable way to get in. Ok, I do 4-table the cash games, so this is a little misleading. But, you can't 4 table the $25+R because there is only like 1 per day. Also, tourneys require more focus due to the changing conditions so you probably would not want to 4-table them (mabee 2 or 3 at a time though). The return for the lower buy-in satellites (2,3,5)would be much lower.

So what is the conclusion here? If you are a solid cash game player who can generate a good cash flow, don't waste your time satalitting in. Just use your winnings to buy-in. It is a more profitable play believe it or not. Having said all this, I will still probably play a few of the 25+R satellites. Mostly to keep my tournament skills going. I will take some lower +EV to get some practice and stay sharp. Comments?

Cross a 2006 Goal Off My List

I just won a seat to the WSOP main event!!! Oooops, just kidding. Plus that was not even one of my stated goals for 06. However, I did just take delivery on a new PC with a 20.5" 1600x1200 LCD monitor. Holy Shit, I can see all four tables at once. How did I manage to multitable before? I simply love the set-up know. No worrying about what seat to take so that the tables will tile so that you can see if you were dealt a hand. No pushing the wrong button and reraising big with crap (it pretty much never works out), as you switch from table to table. And no more ignoring the action at the three other tables in the background. 1600 x 1200 rocks! Another cool thing is that by seeing all of the four tables, you can focus and watch the big hands more closely that you may not have even seen. When the pots get big, is when the most can be learned about the other players. Who cares about a guy taking down a $5 pot post flop with a $4 bet. I want to see who is getting all-in with middle pair crap kicker. Whose monster bluff is getting called down on the river, and who is doing the calling. All this info which was pretty much missing, unless it happened on the one table in the forefront is now mine to use. This has to improve my game big time.

While setting up my PC and reinstalling all of the poker sites / poker tracker... I decided to see if I could get rakeback from FullTilt through rakebreak. I sent an email to support to see if they could do it, and decided to hold off on installing FullTilt untill I got an answer. BTW I'm up to 4000+ pts on FullTilt and should easily make the WSOP freeroll next month. So I went to DoylesRoom to try the new monitor out, and get a few more points towards the $550 bonus that never seems to come. I'll tell you right now, that site seems rigged. Ever since I ripped them in my blog for putting me up against AA everytime I have KK, the bad beats have stopped. Monster flops galore, and my bankroll there is way back up. I won on all four tables there last night for a $240 profit in about 1 hour of play. I have been tearing up FullTilt as well, and my online bankroll is up over $1k since I reported it last week. Not bad considering I was only up like $800 in the previous 3 months. The FullTilt cash games seem extra juicy lately. Prolly with newbees trying to earn points for a bonus or the WSOP freeroll, and realizing they need to play way over their head stakes wise to get there. If you haven't played the cash games on FullTilt lately check it out.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Stop & Go Move

I have been using more of the stop and go move lately, and believe me it works. What is the Stop & Go. Here is how I would define it. After showing strength in a hand, you show weakness when you are not weak, and pounce on someone who would try to steal on your weakness. It's really more of a Go/Stop/Go move, but I will use the term Stop and Go. The move works because so many players will pounce on the first sign of weakness. They are hanging around calling you down with a marginal hand they think may be ahead, or a draw. The second you stop betting they come out swinging even if they missed there draw or their marginal hand has not improved. Its a good way to extract some extra value out of a big hand, when the conditions are right.

There are a couple of variations to the move. The first is when you raise preflop with a small to medium pocket pair. If you hit your set, you may wan't to check it so it appears that you missed the flop. Also, when you miss the flop with the same range of hands, but make a continuation bet anyway that is called. Then when your set hits on the turn it is time to go for a check raise Stop and Go.

My favorite variation is when you limp in with a small pocket pair or suited connectors. With a small pocket pair, I will usually bet or reraise the flop when I hit the set. Now if on the turn, you hit quads, or complete a safe boat you check out of position and hope for a steal attempt. I got two people to push all-in to my quads over the weekend using this move. With suited connectors, or any other hand where you flop an outside straight draw or a high flush draw you bet the flop to disguise your hand. When you hit your draw on the turn (out of position), you check to double disguise your hand. This usually will induce a steal/bet which you can call/bet the river or reraise right there. Good or too aggressive players easily fall for this move, so try it if you can.

The other thing that's good about using the stop and go, is that it will slow down the aggressive players when you are looking for a free card or a free showdown. After they have seen you make this tricky play, they will be less likely to make big steal moves on you just because you stopped betting your hand.

Calling Down a River Bluff With King High

I played in a little home tourney over the weekend. It was the usual $10+ rebuys format, and had a $170 prize pool paying 90/50/30. I was not really getting great starting hands, but I was getting some great flops, and the other players were choosing the wrong times to bluff into me. I took an early, commanding chip lead. I was playing very well, and figured the tourney was mine to lose. There was a new guy at this one. He was pretty a pretty wild loose aggressive player. His stack was up and down most of the way. After the rebuy period was over, his stack got crippled down to under $100 (you start with $100). I figured he was out. He started to rally back, and one by one knocked all the last players out to get heads up with me with nearly as many chips.

I am registered for the blogger heads up challenge, and I felt this would be some good live heads up practice for me, since I have been playing mainly cash games lately. We went back and forth stealing blinds for several hands without seeing any flops. Then came the hand of the night. I probably screwed this one up, but this is how it went down. Blinds were $20/$40, and I raised it to $100 with K6o. Call. Flop comes down 875 rainbow giving me an outside straight draw and an over. I bet $150 trying to take it down right there. Call. Turn drops a T. Its pretty hard to put this guy on a hand here. Does he have a small piece of the flop, a couple of overs, a draw? The pot is getting pretty big, so I could push-in semi bluff or check and try to take a free card. I check and he checks behind. J drops on the river. Ok, I missed completely, and have K high on a raggidy board. I could make a big bluff here for all my chips, or check it down and hope the other guy does not bet. I decide to check, and the other guy bets a measly $100 into a $500 pot. I look down and see the I have about $325 left in front of me. This really feels like a bluff, but all I have is King high. If I call and lose, I am down to $225 and in big trouble. If I don't call I still have $325 against about $1500, and am down, but not out. I really think I can outplay this guy, and the blinds are still pretty small. I decide to fold, and he flips over Q6o (Queen fucking high), and takes it down. I start to get a little tilty. I came real close to calling, but didn't. Should I have called?

I lost my patience and started folding or pushing preflop even though the blinds were still semi-small. I came over the top all-in with K9s and lost to AT0 for 2nd place and a $50 payout.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bankroll/WSOP Update

It's been a while since I reported my online bankroll, so here it is:

FullTilt $3,515.40
PokerStars $1,915.10
DoylesRoom $1,118.37
BoDog $624.28
Neteller $1
Cashout/transfer $40

Total $7214.18

The last time I posted this on December 19th, I was at $6462. This is not a great improvement, but I got off to a horrible start in 2006, and probably gave back close to $1,000 before turning things around. Moving up to $1/2 nl has done wonders for my bankroll. Through 1600+ hands on FullTilt since the official switch, I am making $85-90/hr 4-tabling $1/2 nl. I realize this is a small sample and the win rate will likely drop a little over time, but I am very happy with this start and my confidence could not be higher at this level. What a difference a few months make. I used to be convinced that this level would continue to kick my ass. What I have found is the play is really not much better, but you need to play a little more tricky than the ABC poker that beats up $.50/1 nl. It seems like the guys who are doing well at this level are mostly guys I have played a lot with at $.50/1 and am comfortable playing against. The rest are fishy retards, prolly chasing a bonus or going for the WSOP freeroll.

Speaking of the WSOP freeroll, I put in close to three hours on FullTilt trying to generate some points towards the 10,000 required for the freeroll. I ended up with 632 pts for the day, or just north of 200 pts/hr. Looks like it will take about 45 hours of play to get there. I am going to push hard to get the hours in this week, so I can coast in to the 10,000. I won about $300 yesterday generating points not counting about $40 cleared in the reload bonus. If I can keep my win rate north of $75/hr while I am chasing the freeroll, I will have a fat bankroll to report next time. I checked out the lineup for the first 20 seat freeroll, and there were about 550 people who got to 10,000 pts last period required for the 20 seat freeroll. It's like a free $390 buy-in with a decent shot at a seat. Plus, there will probably be 5-10% zombies (no shows) that will make it even easier. I hope I get a couple of zombies to my left, so I can steal their stacks!

My quest for $Ws on PokerStars for the $2,000 seat is off to a slow but good start. I have played in just 1 satellite, a $2+R Turbo, that I won for 33 $W. Those things are super easy, but they start at a pretty bad time for me. I am going to try to play a few more, and get my $Ws up so I can play in the $25+R into the $650 tourney. If I can win 3 of those I will have $1950 and only have to put $50 of my own money in. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The 7th Greatest Blogging Poker Player

I have finally hit the big time. As of last night, I am the 7th best poker player in the blogging universe. I played in the DADI IV event last night on PokerStars. There were 57 bloggers for a 6-handed NL Texas Holdem tournament. This would be my first time playing against the other bloggers. 6-handed holdem is not my specialty, but I have done pretty well in the 6-handed S&Gs on PokerStars, so I felt I had a chance. Read below for what happened, but be pre-warned there is a bad beat at the end.

I started out at a fairly passive table that had JoeSpeaker, and a few other names that I recognized. I did a lot of limping in and slowly built my stack to about 1800. I limped in with 54o from the BB and flopped trip 5s. After some slowplaying, I won a nice pot putting my stack north of 2300. About 10 minutes later, I picked up QQ. Blinds were 25/50, and the guy to my right raised it up to 150. I reraised to 450. The flop came Q high all hearts. I was getting ready to make a big bet, but the initial raiser pushed all in, and I insta-called. I was worried he may have a heart, but he had second pair with no heart. I knocked him out and ran my stack north of 4000. 5 minutes later the table broke, and I was moved to a new table.

I landed at a super aggressive table that had Doubleas two to my right, and the chip leader to my left. Lifesagrind was also there, and was raising to 3x nearly every hand. I did not like where my seat was, the size of everyone's stack, and the overall aggression level. I figured that limping was no longer an option, as I would surely get reraised by one of the big stacks. I also figured if I could catch a hand I would get it paid off. I sat for what seemed like 1/2 hour without seeing a decent starting hand or a flop. Doubleas was attacking my BB everytime it folded to him. My stack dropped down to about 2000 while I was basically just watching the table. I watched Doubleas win a big pot with AA then pick up JJ on the next hand, get all-in preflop and lose to AQ. Then he built his stack back up to 4000 through some more aggressive play and what appeared to be a lot of restealing. I picked up AKs in the BB. Blinds were 100/200, and Doubleas made his typical steal to 600. I rerasied to 1800 and he folded. I picked up QQ in the BB, and BoobieLover who was the chip leader to my left reaised to 600 (3x), it folded to me, and I pushed all-in. No call. Then I got JJ UTG and raised to 800. I got reraised 2000, and pushed all-in. I was up against 99, and knocked another player out. My stack was north of 4000 again, and we were down to about 15 players left. I raised to 4x with AK UTG and got no callers.

Then I picked up AA in the BB. It folded to Doubleas, who raised 3x to 600 from the button after everyone folded. The last time I came over the top from the BB for 3x his raise he folded. I wanted a call this time, and I figured it would be hard for him to fold to a min reraise, so I raised to 1200. Doubleas called. I figured I would push in on any flop, and when the flop came KQx, I was not left with much of a choice, so I pushed all-in. Doubleas called with K9o. I won and crippled his stack down to about 650. He was eliminated a few hands later in 12th. Boobielover got knocked out, and lifesagrind who was now on my left had something like 35000 chips. We got down to 7 players and started hand to hand play to reach the final 6-handed table.

When hand for hand started, I was in 6th place with about 6500 in chips. Unfortunately, there were 3 players at my table, 4 players at the other table, with the chip leader on my left. 7th place had about 5ooo in chips, but the other table did not seem to be pressuring him (sometimes even folding around to his BB). I waited for a big hand hoping someone would bubble out, but hand for hand play just kept going and going. Right before the second break, I was down to about 2500 in chips, and picked up 77. I pushed, and got called by the chip leader with KJs. I dodged a ton of bullets, and doubled up to over 5000 in chips and back in 6th place.

Play continued for a while after the break, and nobody was getting eliminated. I figured one more double up would get me to the final table. I picked up A5o on the button and pushed in for close to 5000. Lifesagrind went in the tank, but eventually called with A3o, and the button folded. If I could dodge a 3, it appeared I would make the final table with some chips to work with. Flop came Q62 rainbow. A 5 dropped on the turn, which I thought was great because a split pot was now off the table. I actually though lifesagrind was drawing dead here, but to my horror a 4 dropped on the river, giving lifesagrind a runner, runner inside straight, and I was out in 7th as the bubble boy.

The tournament was eventually won by bdidde, and lifesagrind who took a huge chip lead to the final table got third. I felt like I played pretty well, though probably not aggressive enough for 6-handed. If I win the pot I was eliminated on, I would have had over 10,000 in chips and be in 4th place at that point. My table situation sucked for the hand for hand, so I guess I can be happy as the 7th best blogger for now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Push For WSOP 2006 Begins Now

I just moved $600 from Neteller to PokerStars to take advantage of the 20% deposit bonus. PokerStars has started running qualifiers for the WSOP, so my push for a seat has officially begun. I am going to play in the $2,000 buy-in event on July 1st for sure. My plan is to play in various qualifier tournaments that lead up to a 10k qualifier, and unregister before playing in the last qualifier. This way I will accumulate as much W$ as possible, which I will use for a direct buy-in to the 2k event through PokerStars. Whatever amount of W$ I am short, I will supplement with cash to get to the 2k. I don't plan on trying for a 10k seat at PokerStars. I would like to play in the 10k event, but I don't want to waste real money trying to qualify. If I get north of 2k in W$ quickly, I may change my mind. If I cash in the 2k WSOP event, I may use winnings to pay for a 10k seat, and I will know I am ready if that happens.

FullTilt is where I will try to get a "free" 10k seat. The next qualifying period for the 20 seat freeroll begins tomorrow night at 9pm Pacific. If I am not playing in PokerStars qualifiers to get W$, I will be playing cash games on FullTilt to get the required 10,000 FullTilt points for the freeroll. I am still doing well at $1/2 nl and it looks like about 25 hours of 4 tabling the $1/2 nl will get me to 10k in points. I should be there in about two weeks and I will try to report my progress.

I have not had a lot of time for posts lately, but I should have more time over the next few weeks. I plan on doing a bankroll update shortly. I think I am up from the last time I reported it, but I got off to a bad start this year, and have only recently turned things back around. I just ordered a new PC and 20" high resolution monitor from Dell, so I will finally be able to see all four tables without them overlapping big time. I really think this will help, and the new PC should pay for itself in additional winnings pretty quick. I also will try to play in the blogger heads up championship that was just announced. No confirmation yet, but I should get in if they have at least 32 entries. I have a lot that I want to write on strategy so check back from time to time. Blinders will stop now. See ya.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Have Made The Move Up To 1/2 NL

This has taken way longer than I ever thought possible, but I have made the move! As you may have seen from my earlier posts, I have been struggling in 2006. Mainly due to a series of bad beats that are not worth discussing any more. I figured a change may be good, so I started multitabling the 1/2 nl cash games on FullTilt. This time I got some cards and luck, and managed to win $300 in about 450 hands over the last few days. This is a welcome change from the last few times I moved up, but I was due. I have been buying in for $120, so I have about a three buy-in cushion right now before I would go negative. I plan on playing this level exclusively (provided the table looks right) for now, as I try to qualify for the WSOP freeroll. I am not going to make it by the 14th, but it should be pretty easy for the next qualifier. Last night I could only find one juicy 1/2 table on FullTilt so I filled in three other $.50/1 tables. I ended up winning on all 4 tables. The hand of the night was at $1/2. I was at about $110 in chips when I picked up AQo in the SB. There were a few limpers, so I popped it to $10 and got one caller. Flop came KJT rainbow. I did a small continuation bet of $14 into a $25 pot and got called. The turn was a J which I did not like, but I fired out $30 anyway. Call again. This guy would have probably reraised with a boat there, so I felt I still had the lead. The river was a small card for a runner runner heart flush. I had $56 left and the pot was $113. I pushed all-in to make it look like I was bluffing at the flush. At first I thought that might have been stupid, as I would only get called by a better hand, but the guy went into the tank, so I knew I had him. He eventually called with AK, and I won a nice pot. The guy was pissed and started crying, but he played that pretty bad. I laughed. The poker gods owed me that one, and ten more just like it.