Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hung Like a H.O.R.S.E.

I have been slowly getting back into the online poker thing since I got back from the WSOP. Its been the usual fare of running set into straight, set into higher set, flush into boat....

A little unsettling, but its just a variance thing. Last night I wanted to switch things up a bit and play some single table S&Gs. I usually play the 2 table variety, but the S&G traffic on FullTilt is super weak, and I did not have a ton of time. I ended up running a few turbo single table S&Gs, and then I saw something I had never noticed before.

Single Table Limit H.O.R.S.E S&Gs

I fired up a $5+50 one just for fun, and you know what? It was a blast. Mulitabling holdem can get real monotonous (especially when your getting kicked in the junk left and right). This was something new, and challenging. Well not really challenging. At these limits, the play is pretty horrible, and I could hold my own in games I have never played before (believe it or not). I have always liked Omaha hi/lo split. Don't have the feel like I do for holdem, but it will come. I also discovered that I like the Razz. It's a simple game, and so easy to figure out where you stand. These donks were playing every hand, where I knew how to fold when you start with (KK)Q in Razz. I also like the Stud hi/lo split. I am not very comfortable with straight stud, but you can always just fold the antes, and wait for the next game if you don't get some kind of monster to start.

There was one guy at the table who seemed to know what he was doing and led the S&G most of the way. I won some big pots in Omaha and Stud Hi/lo and stayed second most of the way. When the bubble burst, I was a distant third, but rallied back in Holdem to get well into second place. I let the big stack try to knock out the shorty a couple of times, but it did not work, and I eventually got knocked out in third for a $8 payday. Ok, only $2.50 in profit but the fun was priceless!

If you are ever in a rut at holdem you have to try this. The play is so bad, even a beginner like me can compete. I might even try some Razz cash games in the future. The only problem with the H.O.R.S.E format, is it is tough to multitable. In Holdem, it is much easier to make decisions with the limited info available. In the 7 card games and Omaha, there is a lot more to consider before every decision so it can get a little stressful multitabling. Anyway it was fun, and I am wanting to run more, and maybe move up to the $10+1 level soon.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Greatest Poker Player Ever

A while back I wrote a post that stated that the greatest poker player ever, would be someone from today's generation. There are tons of big names from back in the day, but there just were not that many people who played poker back then. Today with the millions of people who play online or who have crowded cardrooms since the advent of the WPT, the talent pool is a few orders of magnitude larger then ever before. Someone from this large group of talent will emerge as the best player ever, hands down. It will not be one of the big names from the past. It will be an unknown who rises to the top. Well, I have a candidate who is taking over the poker world by storm.

Jeff Madsen

Jeff, is a student from UCSB (Santa Barbara), who just turned 21. He has been playing for just a couple of years. There is an Indian casino called Chumash that is about 1/2 hours drive from Santa Barbara. You need to be 18 to play there, and Jeff got some great live experience there without the restriction of being 21. He won a couple of their tourneys along the way (about $2000 a pop), that built up his confidence. So he decided to make a run at this years WSOP. His parents put up $3500, and he pulled another $6500 from his college funds to take his shot at the bigtime. So how has he done so far???

Jeff has pwned this years WSOP. He has three final tables with two wins and a third place finish. He is #1 in the WSOP standings, and has jumped up to #4 in the cardplayer POY race in just a few short weeks. Even more impressive is the fact that they were three different format tournaments (Omaha high/low, NL Holdem full table, and NL holdem 6-max). Saturday night, he entered the $5000 6-max final table as the short stack, and worked his way up to heads up with Eric Lindgren. Eric had a significant chip lead when heads up began. Jeff, would hang in there, slowly chipping up, and eventually outlast Eric for the win. Eric has said before that an amateur has no chance against a seasoned pro. Well, I guess your not a seasoned pro, because a 21 year old college student in his first WSOP is an "amateur".

There is a lot of luck in tournament poker, but its hard to explain Jeff's success against the massive fields of today's WSOP as luck. I think Mark Sief won two bracelets last year, but he is a seasoned pro, who had played in the WSOP many times before. For Jeff to come into his first WSOP, and pull off what he has done so far, against the ridiculously huge fields may go down as the greatest feat ever in the history of the WSOP. And this guy has only been playing for 2 1/2 years. I have been playing longer than that! If he keeps focused, he will only get better. This guy may be the greatest ever.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

WSOP Event #27 Day #1

As I drove through the desert Monday afternoon on my way out to the biggest poker event of my life, my mind was racing. I was running through all the ways the tournament could play out. Would I be ready? Would I do well? When I was in college, I hated studying for tests. I would keep putting it off until the night before, and I would usually run into some concept that I just didn't get. Without enough time to work it out, I would just give up and get a good night's sleep. The funny thing is, during the test with the pressure on, I would somehow figure it out. I would nail a concept that I did not understand until I was actually taking the test. I was hoping for something like this tomorrow at the WSOP.

I know what it takes to play well in a live tournament, I just don't know if I can actually do it. You need to be watching the action closely. Ghosting peoples hands. Picking out the tight, loose, passive and aggressive players. Picking up on the steals and resteals, and developing countermeasures for every player at the table. I know this is what you do, but I have never been able to focus on this stuff for more than a few brief moments spread out over a long session of live play. Playing mostly online will do this to you. You are used to things moving quickly, and don't have much down time. It helps to keep you focused. I wanted to do all of this in the WSOP tournament. Play live like I never have played before.

I show up for the tournament at about 11:45. There is a countdown timer running. I find my table (#19 seat #2). I sit down 4 minutes before the start. There's about 6 total seated. About 1 minute prior to the start, a younger guy sits down and announces he's here to have fun. I don't recognize anyone at my table. To my left is the only older guy at the table. He reeks of not having taken a shower in a few days, or just crapped his pants or both. To his left is a guy decked out in a FullTilt Jacket and baseball cap. Turns out it was Joe Sebok who was Barry Greenstein's son, and #56 in cardplayers POY race. He has two big wins this year and several WSOP cashes this and last year.

2,126 Entries, 198 paid, $655,141 for 1st place.

Level 1 - 25/25 blinds

My strategy going in was to play tight in the first two levels, and build a tight image I could exploit later on. The way the cards hit me in the first level, this would be easy to do. On the first hand of the tournament the guy who announced he wanted to have fun open raises to T250 (10x). When everyone folds he flips up AA. An orbit later, same guy opens for T375 (15x) from the BB against 1 EP limper. EP limper goes all-in. "Fun guy" insta calls with AA, and doubles up vs. AKo. I am not sure if "fun guy" is an idiot or a genius. The overbetting preflop with AA, just worked, but the limper could easily have folded his hand there, and would fold a lot of hands you would want calling with AA. An orbit later "fun guy" flops a straight in the BB, and gets all-in on the flop vs. Joe Sebok's top 2-pair. Joe is eliminated, and fun guy is up to T5000 in chips quick. Must be nice when your getting cards. I pretty much got nothing, no pairs, no decent ace, no suited connectors. I slowly blind down. The only hand of note for me during the level was when I picked up QJs on the button. There was a 3x open from MP and I called as well as the BB and a limper. The flop came Axx with one of my suit. It checked to me on the button, and I opened to T150. I get reraised to T500, and pretty much have to release the hand or push-in on a pure bluff. I fold. At the end of the level, I am down to T1000 and have not won a single hand yet.

At this point, I am just not feeling like I am that into the tournament. When you play for an hour without winning a pot, that will do it to you. I was wondering what it would be like If I don't even win a single pot in this thing. Even though I have lost 1/3 of my stack, I am not giving up. The blinds are still low, and I am bound to get hit by the deck sooner or later. I always like to shake off a slow start using the fact that it is always better to get cards late in a tournament. The level of play at my table is in no way exceptional. No donk plays, but nothing to make me think any of these guys are real good. I feel like I am as good as anyone at my table.

Level 2 - 25/50 blinds

I start with T1000 in chips. It folds to me in the SB, and I raise to T100 with T9s. BB folds, and I have won my first pot at the WSOP (1 BB wheee!). People were getting eliminated left and right at my table. There was also a orphan stack that was still getting blinded off. The orphan stack shows up and open raises his first hand to T175. I look down at AQs on the button and call. Flop comes all low. New guy bets T600, and I have T825 behind and pretty much have to fold or go all-in with Ace high. I fold. I get blinded down to T725. Things are not going very well so far. I pick up AJo in the cutoff and after a limper raise to T225 from the cutoff. Limper calls, and pushes in on a J9x flop. I call, limper has 88, and I double up. I have T1525 and I am above water for the first time in the tournament. I limp in with 44 on a 4-way pot. Flop comes A32. Checks around. Turn is an A and it checks around again. River is a T, and after 2 checks I bet T150 and get called by JT. Probably should have bet the turn on this hand or checked it down on the river. The new guy who has been making lots of smallish open raises, opens to T125. I pick-up QQ in the SB and reraise to T500. Everyone folds. I pick up ATo in the cutoff, and try to open raise to T250. I missed the fact that someone had already opened to T200. I wanted to get my bet back, but was forced to call, by my actions. Flop comes J77 and it checks around. Blank on the turn, and after a check, I bet T400 and take it down. I am up to T1875 at this point. I am blinded down to T1800 by the end of the level.

At the end of this level, I am feeling much better. I have won a few pots and built my stack back up. I am two hours in to a WSOP event, I have increased my stack 20%. Not great, but a nice comeback from down over 50%. I will have some time to pick my spots in the coming levels. It's break time, so I hit the bathroom and head over to the PokerStars Suite for a drink. I run into Pauly on my way back. I told him I was sitting on T1800 and where my table was. He says he will swing by for a photo.

Level 3 - 50/100 blinds

I start with T1800 in chips, and blind down to T1500. I pick up 33 from the cutoff and open raise to T400 and steal the blinds. Back to T1650. I pick up TT from MP and open raise to T400. A new guy to my left pushes all-in for T1025 total and it folds back to me. This guy is short and desperate so his range is pretty wide here. I am almost getting pot odds if he has a higher pair. I make the call. He has AQo. I am a 57%/42% favorite here. This is one of those inflection points in a tournament. If I win, I am up to about 3k in chips which would be slightly above average. If I lose, my stack is in bad shape, and I will need to get lucky to crawl back into contention. I am amazingly calm. An Ace drops on the flop, and I lose the hand. It hardly effects me. I got my money in with the best hand, and could not win the coin flip. What more can I do? A win gives me an average stack at this point in the tournament, and I am in real good shape. I am down to T625. Down to T525 it folds to me in the SB, and I push in with AK, and get the BB. 10 minutes left in the level, and I have T525 and looking for a spot. I get A9s UTG, and push in. It folds to the BB who tanks for a while. The longer he tanks, the more I want the call, as I could use the chips, and I am sure I am ahead. He makes the call with JTo. 58%/41% favorite here. I survive the flop, but the turn is a T and IGHN.

I place about 1100th/2126 outlasting over 1000 entries. In 10 minutes at the end of the level they would be down to 105 tables. I feel really good about how I played. The only hand I question was the river bluff with 44 that got called, but that only cost me T150. I played through a tough start and crawled back into contention. You are going to need to win a coin-flip here or there, and it just did not happen for me. I was playing tight and bluffing at a decent frequency. The fact that about about ½ of my bluffs got caught makes me think my big hands would gave been paid off (if I got one). If I win the TT vs. AQ hand I have a decent shot at going deep. If I win my last hand, I still have some time to get back in it. It would not be my day. Based on the play at my table, I feel like I definitely belonged in this tournament. My game is good enough, I just need to catch a break here ot there. I got decent starting cards (QQ, TT, AK, AQs, AJo 44, 33, 22), but not great ones in my three hours of play (about 120 hands).

I was more in tune with the table, then I have been before, but not to the level I could have taken it. It's tough to focus and ghost hands at NL, when so few hands are shown down. I still can improve in this area, but it's tough. I'll probably be back next year. I'm glad I played in a smaller event and not the ME. With so much luck involved in tourneys, it would suck to lose 10k on a bad beat or bad luck. I have a feel for the WSOP now, and got it relatively cheap. My confidence is high right now, after a decent showing in a big-time event. I'll have to see what happens next year. There are photos of me on Pauly's blog and on the pokerstars blog.

Players who busted before me in Event #27:

John Juanda
Carlos Mortensen
Josh Areih
Barry Shulman
Annie Duke
Jennifer Tilly
Mark Sief (defending Champ)
Greg Raymer

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Final WSOP Preparations - Online Bankroll $12,348

Last night, I ran three MTTs and one $75 token into the FullTilt 100 Seat WSOP tourney. I cashed in all three MTTs, and if my QQ could have held against A8 all-in preflop, rivered A, I play in 100 seat giveaway on Sunday as well. The three MTTs are listed below.

Bodog $3500 Guarantee ($10+1)

35th/382 for $19.10 payout. Went out short with 99 vs.TT all-in preflop.

FullTilt $9000 Guarantee ($24+2)

29th/602 for $50.57 payout. Went out pushing short from the SB with QTo. BB woke up with AKo.

FullTilt $5+.50 buy-in ($5+.50)

25th/470 for $11.75 payout. Went out pushing short from the SB with Q2o. BB called with Q8o

I started all three tourneys at 10pm Saturday night, and went 3+ hours in all of them for the cash. It was not a lot of money, but it feels great to cash 3 for 3 going into the WSOP. I got up to about 10k in all three tourneys, but went pretty card dead late, and was forced to make moves late in all three. I key hand here or there, and I could have final tabled at least one of them.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I decided to play some cash games on PartyPoker. I had about 450 raked hands to clear a reload bonus that would expire Tuesday. Since I am leaving for Vegas tomorrow afternoon, today would be my last chance to clear it. I ended up winning $450 in about 2 1/2 hours of play while clearing a $100 bonus. I called it quits, and will stop my preparations for the WSOP on this high note.

I have not updated my bankroll in a while, so here it is:

PartyPoker $3087
FullTilt $1981
Neteller $1866
WSOP #27 Seat $1500
DoylesRoom $1010
WorldPX $646
Titan $524 $498
PokerStars $383
Noble $318
CDPoker $230
Transfers $152
Mansion $108
Bodog $45

Total $12,348

I'm up about $1,100 since May 15th. A substantial drop off in profit rate from my last update. There are several reasons for this.

1) Played less poker recently.
2) Played more MTTs to get ready for the WSOP.
3) Less bonus money generated.
4) Got off to a bad start immediately after May 15th, and had to slowly dig my way out.

Overall, I am not to happy about my bankroll growth over the last two months, but I was not really doing what it take to maximize it. In early August, I will be in Maui for two weeks and will probably not play poker at all. After that trip, I will get my focus back to my cash game, and do what it takes to ladder up the stakes over the last part of the year. My game feels great right now, but a lot of it is I'm just running good.

This will probably be my last post before Event #27. I copied Lucko21 and will be staying at the Gold Coast across the street. I'm booked there for Monday and Tuesday night. It was only $37 a night, plus I can get a $30 rebate from for gas. When I make it to the second day of the tourney, I can extend my stay for one more night. After the Vegas blogger tourney, I was a little down. Feeling like I was not ready to compete at the WSOP. After this weekend, I feel much better about my tournament game. If the deck can hit me just a little, I can go deep. Looking forward to greatest poker experience of my life.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Breaking In The Shirt

Last night was the Monthly stop on the OCPT. I normally wear my FullTilt football jersey, but I thought I would represent with my new PokerStars shirt that I would wear in next weeks WSOP event. We had a semi-light showing of 12 entries. Probably due to moving it to Tuesday to get out of a scheduling conflict, and people having more vacation plans in the summer. This would be my last live tourney before the WSOP. I planned on loosening up my game a bit and experimenting.

I go pretty dead card-wise as usual, but we are 6 handed so I am loosening up as much as possible. I see a flop from the SB with 64s. When the flop comes 542 with one of my suite. I fire out a bet, and lose everyone but Audra. The 3 drops on the turn giving me my straight, but also leaving two flush draws out there. I make another big bet, and Audra reraises all-in. I call, and she has a smaller straight and a flush draw. Flush hits on the river, and I get up to rebuy. A few hands later, I get KK, and Audra pushes in-preflop before me. I call, and she has JJ and gets no help. Up to T400 in chips. I would then triple up on consecutive hands. Once I had 77 and the flop came TT7. Both players went all-in before I could even act. The next hand was JJ, and I got my self all-in prelfop 3-way. I didn't really like this. I was against AJ and K5s. The Jacks held and I had a massive chip lead at the break.

I pick up KK again, and make a 3x preflop raise. Flop comes JTx and it gets checked to me. I say I'm putting you all-in. Drew says "You got it" and tables his JT. Did that guy just muck 2-pair. No. I guess he called. Decent dent in my stack. Then people started to drop. Later, I called Drew's all-in on the flop. The board was KTx, and I had K4. Drew had K8, but I rivered a 4 and eliminated him. I knocked TA out a few hands later when I called his all-in with 77, and his overs did not improve. Jeff would knock out the other two players, and we were heads up for the title.

We started about even in chips. I went into bully mode, and took a nice chip lead. I raised preflop with K6s, and called Jeffs small all-in reraise. He had 83o. He picked up an 8 and was back in Business. We went back and forth for a few more hands. Eventually, I raised preflop with A5o. Jeff came over the top all-in. He had me slightly covered. I did the math, and felt that if I folded, I would have a pretty small chance of winning. If I called and won, it would be mine. I decided to call, and he had ATo. I would not improve, and ended up taking second place for $150.

I seem to play pretty good in the PStars shirt, and think I have made some good adjustments to my tourney game. Hope the shirt continues to bring me luck next week

Vegas Trip Report Part (d)

Sunday morning, I would sleep in. The only plans were to meet at the Mandalay sports book, and watch the World Cup Finals. The hot tip was to bet France as the underdog, because either team could win. I liked the plan, but have never bet on soccer before. Also, I can't say that I fell into the world cup hype, plus betting on France would be hard for me to stomach. I like betting/watching football and basketball much better than the lower scoring baseball/hockey/soccer, but that's just me. Anyway, I slept in too late to catch the start of the game, and I also had one big task to complete before going home.

Pick up your seat assignment for Event #27 of the WSOP.

So off to the Rio I go. I have been there before, but never for the WSOP. I park, and then walk what seems like a mile through the casino and hallways until I can tell I am getting close. How can I tell? Was that just Jennifer Tilly that I saw in line for the Women's bathroom? I pass the PokerStars VIP Booth and wind my way into the massive hall that I have only seen on TV. In one section of the hall, roped off, there is just a ridiculous number of big-time pros. Pretty much everyone I have ever seen on TV is there. They are playing Omaha, and it appears to be very early in the tournament. One table has Marcel Luske, Jen Harmon, Mark Sief, Gus Hansen, Clownie Gowen, and Tex Barch. Wow, Marcel just busted Gus. Wow, Clonie is freaking hot in person! It's pretty intimidating being in a room with this density of big-time pros. It turns out it was the 10k pot limit Omaha event. That's why so many pros on so few tables. This is probably the one event (next to the 5ok HORSE), that has a smallish size field, and one of the better chances to bag a bracelet. Alright time to take care of business.

I go back to the PokerStars suite, and sign the waiver. They give me a plain black golf shirt with on it. I thought I was going to get a "swag bag" but oh well. I go to Will Call, and pick up my seating assignment.

WSOP Event #27 - Tuesday July 18th 12PM, Table #19 - Seat #2

This took about a minute, which was way cool. Its starting to sink in that I'm actually going to play in this thing. I like the low table number cause I think that means my table will not break.

I headed off the strip to a local casino that has .50 craps. The craps table was closed, so I played $3 BJ for about an hour and won $17. At around 5pm, it would be time to head back across the desert to the OC. What a weekend!

Gambling Totals for Trip

1/2 NL MGM +$35
3/5 NL MGM -$80
1/3 NL XCAL +$200
Blogger Tourney -$80
$3 BlackJack +$17

Total +$92

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vegas Trip Report Part III

After properly recovering Saturday afternoon from the festivities Friday night, it was time to "storm the castle". I was well fed, sober, and ready to play some cards as I crossed the bridge to the castle from my home base at the Trop around 10:30 pm Saturday night. I have never been to the Excal poker room, but it was not that hard to find. Its just kind of on the far side of the casino, but out in the middle of everything. I did not see a ton of bloggers at first, but I put my name on the 1/3 NL list, turned around and ran into smokkee. Looking around, I saw Joe Speaker, DoubleAs, and a few others playing at various tables. I then saw pauly, and iggy milling about on the rail. I get called and seated at a table that had a couple of bloggers I did not know. There was a lot of action at the next table over. I saw that DoubleAs was there, and Joe Speaker had moved to the table. Then Smokkee got a seat there. I wanted to move to. I played for about 1/2 hour and was slightly up. I saw Huge Junk by the rail (I still don't know if its ok to say that). I chatted with him briefly at the blogger tourney. I decided to take a break, and try to get on the list for the other table. I went over and talked to Bob some more. He's as cool as you would expect from his blog. He mentioned that he was the top result in Google when you search for "Huge Junk". Must be nice! I wonder if he parlays that into as much action as I would. Prolly. Anyway, a seat opened up at DoubleAs table, and I had to cut our conversation short. I grabbed the seat to DoubleAs immediate left.

To DoubleAs right was biggestron, to my left Yosoyveneno (with iggy pinch hitting), then Smokkee, then Shane Nickerson, then Joe Speaker. Eventually zeem filled the seat to the right of biggestron. It was a table full of bloggers, and the next four hours at this table would be the most fun I had on the trip. I put an order in for a bottomless Hieneken with the cocktail waitress. The way DoubleAs, Joe, and zeem looked I had some catching up to do.

Iggy jumped in to play Yosoyveneno short stack while she took a break. He managed to get that little stack in the middle something like 4 times in 2 orbits, and doubled her up. There were abundant live straddles that I guess are mandatory. Smokkee raised it up to $35 after about 5 callers of a straddle, and took the pot down flipping up the hammer. I got QQ a few hands later, and and raised it to $36 after another bunch of straddle calls. Joe and DoubleAs call. Flop comes K high, and I lead out with $50 after DoubleAs checks. They both fold. I show my Hilton Sisters. It seemed like everytime there was a live straddle, someone would make an obsene raise to punish the straddler. That not going to stop it. I get all-in with Veneno when I turn the nut straight with AJ, but she has AJ as well so we split. DoubleAs calls Joes all-in after a reraise battle preflop with JTs. Joe has AKo. DoubleAs flops and turns a J to take the pot down and calls it a night. Smokkee doubles through someone on a turned straight and calls it a night. After smokkee leaves, biggestron comments that he wished my buddy didn't leave because he wanted a chance to get his chips back. I guess smokkee had been floating him for a while before I got there. I get JJ and make a standard $12 preflop raise. Zeem calls. Flop drops T98 rainbow, and I have "outs for days". I overbet the flop, and Zeem pushes in. I am getting more that 4-1 to call, so I do and don't improve. Thats ok, he will just be keeping them warm for me.

This is when the hand of the night happened. Joe live straddles, and biggestron reraised to $20 total. Then Katkin who took DoubleAs seat, reraises to $40 total. Joe stacks his chips up and pushes in for about $200 total. Biggestron folds, and Katkin calls. Katkin is behind Joe's 72o with the vulnerable KK. Joe flops an outside straight draw, and turns the straight after yelling "one time!"to stack Katkin. This must have tilted him, as he ran off. I figured I needed to get more into the action. My bottomless Hieneken was starting to kick in, and all this hammer dropping was just to contagious. I pick up the sooted hammer in EP and raise it up to $12. 5 callers. I flop the flush, and bet out $35. Everyone folds and I show the (sooted) hammer. Ok, I know that it does not count, but its all I got. Ok! Later, I call a 3x preflop with 45s in a family pot. I flop the ass-end of the straight when 678 appears. Zeem bets, and I reraise. The money gets all-in on the flop and Zeem has 84o (lol). I stack him, and he rebuys.

At about 4am, we pretty much all just called it quits. I had worked my $200 stack up to $400 for a nice $200 profit, plus unlimited Hienekens. It looked like Shane had got close to 1k for the biggest stack at the table. Joe was a lot of fun to play with, but prolly was a contributor due to the drunken nature of his game that night. It was a total blast playing with everyone.

Vegas Trip Report Part 2

I heard some rumblings the night before, that the blogger tourney would not start till 11:30am, and not be over until 6pm. I wanted to soak it all in, so I got to Ceasars at 10am. They had some poker writers talk about their new books/blogs, and Howard lederer talked about the upcoming legislation to ban online gaming. For some reason the legislation thing is not freaking me out. I don't think it will actually pass, and if it does I figure there will be some work around. With the prisons as full as they are, I doubt they will be clearing room for a .50/1 nl player like myself. It's also hard to believe the law can effect a company like Neteller that is not located in the US and is not a bank. They may be able to stop transactions from Neteller to banks, but there are non gaming uses for Neteller. You can always get the Neteller ATM and bypass the US banks all together.

At close to 12 the tables were seated. I hated my table draw, but some of these bloggers are real good, so many of the tables were probably pretty tough. To my right was Mr. Subliminal, and to my left were Jen Leo, Chad, Hoyazo, F-Train, Hoff, and later Human Head. I had commented in Hoyazo's blog before the trip, that I hoped he would go far in the 2.5k WSOP event so that he would not push my TAG ass around at the blogger tourney. Double bad beat for me. Hoy is out of the WSOP tourney and at my first table. He's a great guy, so I'll reduce it to a single bad beat. The structure of the tourney was great with 4k in starting chips and 40 minute levels. I would try to employ my optimal tourney strategy for this one.

I went card dead early, but was able to take Jen's blind a few times to keep even. Hoyazo and F-Train were open raising and reraising preflop a lot from the other side of the table. My side of the table was much tighter. The first big hand came about 1 hour in when I picked up AA in EP. I open raised 3x to T150, and it folded to F-Train who reraised me to T500. I put on a little act that I was concerned about the raise. I needed to reraise back here, but how much. We were both around 4k deep at this point. I decided to raise it to T1000. I figured F-Train would need to call this, as I was giving him some decent odds to draw to a set. I also didn't want to make it obvious I had AA. F-Train calls, and the flop comes A86 with two spades. I decided to make what looks like a weak lead and bet out T800. F-train calls. I now am putting him on a medium to high pocket pair, or he is just floating me. The turn dropped a blank. With about T4000 in the pot, and with T2100 behind, I decided to just push in here. Anything else would have been to obvious. F-Train folded after some thought. I was happy to scoop the pot, but I was wondering if I could have played it better. If I check the turn, F-Train probably bets if he was floating me. If not, I could value bet the river. I think the flush draw bothered me enough that I just wanted to take it down. I am not sure what he had, but it was a great laydown. If he calls there, I either bust him, or he is down to a few chips. He eventually would win the tournament so nice job F-Train.

The very next hand I get JJ. I raise it 6x to T300 to make it look like I am playing a rush, and Jen immediately rerasies me to T600. It folds back to me, and I ask her for a chip count. She says "it don't matter, I am calling anyways". She did not have enough for me to properly draw to a set, and I got a read that I was probably already behind. I mucked. An orbit later, I open raise 3x (T300) from LP with A9o, and Hoyazo in the BB makes it T1000. I am waiting for a spot to get in with Hoy, but at first it does not feel right, and A9o is pretty weak. I muck, but then start thinking about Hoy's resteal post a few weeks ago. It becomes obvious that is what he just did. We talk about it at the table, and he claims he had a good hand. Later he would admit he had T6o, and would not have been able to call a rereraise. I get blinded down after being card dead for a whole level. I pick up AA again. I have about T2200 with the blinds 100/200 and a 25 ante. I really need to get some chips with this hand, so I decide to limp and hope someone comes over the top. I guess this was a dead give away, as Hoy basically puts me on AA, and folds the button. F-Train is in the SB and is getting something like 8-1 odds to complete. He folds? The BB reluctantly checks, and mucks to the flop (out of turn). Well I stole the blinds, and that is not much of a help.

I continue to get blinded down and am looking for a spot to get my chips in the middle. I fold a couple of decent hands to big preflop raises. One which would have won a nice pot. Eventually I get 99, and go all-in to call a 1500 open bet on my left. There is one other caller. A nightmare board with an A, Q, and J shows up, and I am beaten by both players and eliminated. There were 6 tables left when I was out, so I was about 50ish/120ish players.

I played ok in the tournament, but was clearly outclassed by F-Train and Hoy. My tournament game needs a lot of work, and I only have one week from today before Event #27 of the WSOP. I need to get the preflop resteal with crap move added to my bag of tricks. When Hoy and F-Trian can get away with it over and over with their loose aggressive style, it should work even better for my tight aggressive game. It is also starting to dawn on me, that you just don't get enough good cards in tournaments to make it all the way. You are going to just have to push in marginal situations and hope for the best. That's how tourneys are won. I couple different moves, and I probably could have gone much deeper in this one. I will need to make those moves in the WSOP. I can't really complain abot getting AA twice and JJ once in 2 1/2 hours of play. Other than that, the cards were few and far between which made it tough to stay even. I am seeing some obvious ways to improve my tournament game which is a great take-away from the trip.

I split immediatly after the tourney to rest up for the "storming of the castle" which I will get to in part III.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vegas Trip Report Part A

Wow, what a weekend. So much happened, and I am not one to write an uberpost, so I will break this into a few manageable segments.

I got into town on Friday night at about 7pm. Checked into the trop, and wanted to go for a swim, but the pool was closed for the night. At 9:30, it was time to head across the street to the MGM, and meet those bloggers I have read so much about. The Trop gave me a free drink coupon on check-in, so I hit a bar at the trop on my way over. I didn't realize it was a "2 for 1" coupon. Those cheap bastards. Well it is vegas, so I double fisted a couple of Corona's, and strolled across the bridge to the MGM. I was parched from the drive, so I slammed them both down in short order.

I went around to the bar behind the poker room. There was a small crowd there, but I did not recognize anyone. I ordered a pint of sierra from the bar. I went up to the pauly looking guy and introduced myself. It was pauly's brother Derek. He was hanging out with Change100, and Yosoyveneno. Around the bar he pointed out Joe Speaker and Grubby. I met Mr. Speaker and Chad (from Playboy mansion puking fame), and eventually decide to warm-up on some 1/2 nl while waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive.

I got seated right away. Speaker was at a table right behind me, and Mrs. Weak Player sat across from me. I picked up AK three times in three orbits. I raised to $10 each time. Got two callers each time, and took it down with a C-bet each time. I only hit the flop one of the three times. Then I limped with 63s in the SB. I missed the flop, and it checked around. I tried to buy it on the turn with a $6 bet but I got three callers. When the river came, I filled a straight I did not know I was drawing to, and bet out $15, and got a caller. I would quit an orbit later up about $35. Back the the bar.

When I got to the bar, I saw Pauly there so I introduced myself. Pauly bought a round, so I got another pint of Sierra. Al Can't Hang and Iggy were now in the house as well. I hung out with Pauly for a while, and gave him props for having the only "work friendly" coverage of the WSOP on the net. A little while later, I found Al alone at the bar. I would need to do a Soco shot at this point, so I offered to buy a couple shots. Al had had a few already, but was in no position to turn down a Soco shot. The bartender filled a couple of small glasses 1/2 full with soco. Holy Shit, that's not a shot, that's like 3-4 shots. We clanged glasses, and I slammed the 3 1/2 shots down. Al drank about 1/2 of his. Did Al just slow play me? A little later DoubleAs showed up at the bar. We talked for a while, and he said he wanted to play some 3/5 NL, so we got on the list. I ended up getting called right after DoubleAs and took a seat two to his left. This was probably not a great idea, as I was wasted at this point. I saw huge junk wandering the poker room (Is it gay to say that?), but I did not get a chance to say hi. I did a couple of orbits, and donked off some chips bluffing at a bad time. I ended up calling it quits down about $80 after deciding I was too drunk to compete properly. I called it a night, so I could get a little bit of rest for the blogger tourney. More on that in the next post.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Storming The Castle

Vegas Baby!

In a couple hours I'm on my way. Can't wait. My first live tourney with the bloggers, and my first chance to meet everyone in person. Tonight at the MGM, I plan on bringing my A drinking game, and as a result my C poker game, but that will be enough to stack a few tourists at the 1/2 NL tables. Might stack a drunk blogger or two for good measure.

The trip reports from last December made it sound like a crazy-fun time for all. I only know what a few of you look like from pictures, so I guess I will just cruise to the MGM bar and ask:

"Has anyone seen any bloggers?"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Half Year Goal Update

Well, I am half way through the year. For the others out there who are not, its time to catch up. Anyway, it's time to see where I stand goal wise for the year.

1) Start playing higher stakes online - 5/10NL by the end of the year

Very poor progress on this. I have dabbled in 1/2 NL for most of the year, but I am still a losing player at this level. I think I am just getting the raw end of variance, but it still hurts. It's really hard to give up a very profitable .50/1 NL to lose your ass everytime you try 1/2, but that's what's happening. My bankroll could stand 2/4 at this point, so I am being way to conservative. If I found a softer site that would help. PartyPoker may be the cure I am looking for. For now I am focused on my tournament game as Event #27 of the WSOP approaches. After that, it will be time to focus entirely on this goal.

2) Generate $100/hr long term profit.

Still stuck at about $30/hr. Will have to move up to at least 2/4 NL for this to be achieved.

3) Play in Event #6 of the WSOP

Ended up going with Event #27. It worked out good, because there is no way I could be attending the Blogger tourney this week, if I was in Vegas the prior week. I will call this goal met.

4) Play in the WSOP main event.

Not looking like this is going to happen this year. It was not really a hard goal. I have a couple more chances to satellite in, or a big cash in Event #27 and I'm in.

5) Win the season standings in the company tournament

I'm in a virtual tie with smokkee with 2 events left. I am also the career money leader on the OCPT, but this was not a stated goal.

6) Play more 3/5 NL in live casinos.

Have not played any this year. I have done well at 1/2 NL. I plan on getting some in this weekend, especially if I can build a bankroll up swimming with the fishes at the MGM 1/2 nl tables.

7) Play in some big home tourneys and book some big wins.

I have one win for $275 on the OCPT. I also have a 2nd and 3rd place finish on the OCPT this year (not bad for 6 events with about 20 runners in each). I have only played in about three other large buy-ins with no success. I am due for a big cash in the Orange Poker League. Winning the championship would be nice. We will see.

8) Upgrade my monitor to high resolution


Overall, I have made some progress, but have lots of work to do. After the WSOP, I need to start taking some shots at the higher level. I may just jump straight to 2/4, as my luck at 1/2 is horrible. The biggest problem I have is being too careful with my bankroll. I have to be willing to let it stagnate or fall, as I try the higher levels. I also may need to stop multitabling, until I get a good feel for the higher levels. I am not giving up, but have a lot of progress to make in my cash game.

Neck and Neck for Newport POY

One of my stated goals for 2006 was winning the Player of the Year points title for the Newport Poker Open (a private online tourney for Newport employees). I got off to a pretty good start for the year, but smokkee has been pulling away the last few months.

Last night I took down the Newport Poker Open and moved into a virtual tie with smokkee. With two tournaments left, it looks like whoever does better between us will win the title. I have cashed in 7 out of 10 tournaments so far, while smokkee has cashed in 5 out of 9. I like my chances.

I have been pretty card dead in the last few Newport Poker Opens. Last night I would get some decent cards, and play them well.

Early on I limped with QTs, and flopped a Q and my flush draw. I bet the flop, and hit my flush (2nd nut) on the turn. More money went in. When a blank fell on the river I pushed pretty hard, and got a call from Train68. I took down the pot and jumped into a nice early chip lead. I continued to raise my good hands preflop, and c-bet consistently and slowly chipped up as players were eliminated. I even put another player in when my hammer made bottom pair on the flop. No call. I picked up KK with about five players left, and won a big pot, eliminating another player. We get down to 3 handed. I raise with KTs, and they both call. Flop comes KKx, and I slowplay it on the flop. By the river, all three of us are all-in, and I have both of them covered. I figure its over, but David has KT also, and we split the pot.

We get heads up, and I have a 2 to 1 chip lead. I keep the pressure on early and chip up some more. Then I go way card dead, and lose something like 11/12 pots. I type into the chat "I suc". I was on 4 different tables at the time, and its hard to play heads-up properly without your undivided attention. Luckily, a couple of the other tourneys I was in finished, and I was able to focus more on the heads-up battle. David had gained the chip lead at this point. I increased the pressure, and grabbed the chip lead back. On the final hand, I got all-in with KQ, and ran into QQ. Flop was no help, but I turned a K and the tourney was over. Ok, that was a little lucky, but it was the only suckout I needed to win the tourney.

This was David's second tourney, and he has a 1st and 2nd now, so he is playing really well. Smokkee, was traveling this week, and did not show for the tourney, so the 70pts I got allowed me to get to 340pts for the season. Smokkee has 342pts. Third place is over 100 pts back. If I can outplay him in the last two events the titles mine.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Orange Poker League Event #2

I played in the second event of the orange poker league Saturday night. I am getting more convinced that this thing is a complete luckbox crapshoot. With only 1500 in starting chips, a WSOP like blind schedule, 20 minute levels, and a bunch of freaking slow ass amateurs, my game don't seem to work here. You are lucky to get about 6 hands in per level. The rebuys end after the 4th level, so your going to see about 25 hands prior to the freezout starting. These players are horrible. They play way to many hands preflop, and call down with any piece of the flop, or any draw no matter how slim. This style is rewarded with this type of structure. My patient style just does not seem to work. I have been ridiculously card dead in both events so far, but 25 hands is not many to get some playable cards.

I went into this one knowing I would need to loosen up early, or face getting blinded out quick. I tried. I saw some flops with low unsuited connectors (which I was getting a lot of). No flop help for me. The last hand before the rebuys ended was my best so far, and the only one I would have played in a real tournament (this one being a crapshoot).

The hand was QJs. I limped, flop came Q high. I pushed in my last 1k, and got called by an AQ who forget to raise preflop. No help. Rebuy!

I get blinded down to about 900, catch AK and shove in UTG. These players are silly. I basically sit out the entire tournament, and now I am shoving in. Of course I get called with crap. I flop a K and double through to about 2k in chips. Wow, I won my first pot of the night about 2 hours in. It would be my only winning hand of the night.

It ended when I was forced all-in in the BB with 2 live low cards. No help for me or my single opponent, and J high took it down.

I ended up taking 12th out of 32 which is crazy considering I only won 1 hand. This was good for 6 points giving me 10pts total after two horrible tournaments. 10 points puts me at about 12th out of 40 trying to get to the top 9. I am going to have to catch some cards and get a cash to lock myself in to the championship event.

I really need some help adjusting my strategy for these types of tourneys. Its a pure donk/fish/luck fest. It rewards the donks, and its hard for me to play that way. These guys are bad, so I should be able to outplay them post flop. Maybe I should see about 1/2 the flops early and just hope to hit something big. Not sure. I do know that If I get a hand these guys will pay it off. Also, there is almost no chance of bluffing. These guys call down all-ins with A high, third pair/good kicker, second pair/no kicker, and sometimes with air. Its silly.