Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A New Direction

I have been thinking about this space for a while, and have decided to take it in a new direction. I started this blog originally for myself, so I could track my progress at improving my poker game. Before that I would scribble notes down, and then lose them over time. I thought it would be great to take notes while playing poker, and then later on fully explore the new concepts I was trying to learn by writing about them in detail. I did this for myself never really thinking I would actually attract any readers. My game continued to improve, and I developed a niche in the poker blogging community. I became one of the few advocates of squeaky tight preflop, and hyper aggressive post flop play. Call it TAG squared if you want. It’s not a very fun way to play poker, but highly profitable. It is much more fun to write about moves like re-stealing on the turn, vs. when you should fold KK preflop.

When I started the blog, I had aspirations of becoming a pro poker player. My goal was “folding my way to the top”. I liked the idea of a lifestyle that was not 9-5. A lifestyle where you could set your own hours, and travel the world. Now if I was in a low paying job, say $20/hr or less, I would have gone pro long ago. When I was a cash game specialist, I was earning about $35/hr long-term online. The problem was that in my regular job, I am earning 6 figures with benefits. I would need to make $70/hr at poker to improve my earnings by going pro. So I kept working on my game, and attempted to move up the cash game stakes to where $70/hr was possible. I never really could get my win rate above $35/hr though. Then came late 2006 and the UIGEA. I realized immediately that bumping up my win rate would be just about impossible, with tougher online games as a result of the UIGEA. I gave up my dream of becoming a pro poker player shortly there after. Around that same time, I dreamed up the concept of daily fantasy sports for money (now legal under the UIGEA), and went out to raise funds to launch FantasySportsLive.com. Since that time I have kept my day job, and put all of my spare time into running and growing FSL. The time that I put into FSL came directly out of the time that I put into poker. I was probably playing 20+ hours a week when I launched the blog, and now I routinely go over a month without playing a single hand. I had also already explored most of the important TAG concepts of cash games in depth by that time. The only way to keep getting fresh material for this blog was by playing poker, and I simply was not playing enough.

So I made a decision to make a fundamental change in my approach to poker. Before it was all about maximizing win rate per hour which I still feel is the ultimate poker yardstick. Now I simply play for fun. Since cash games are a boring grind, I stopped playing cash games altogether, and switched to MTTs and S&Gs. I pulled out most of my funds online because I no longer needed a large bankroll. I transitioned into a MTT expert from a cash game expert. Now I know you guys are all out there saying “WTF, Blinders of all people claims to be a MTT expert now”. He is a weak TAG and only LAGs can win an MTT. Well my record speaks for itself. Go to OfficialPokerRankings.com, and you will see that I am lifetime profitable in MTTs at FullTilt (the only site where I play MTTs), with a pretty solid ROI. I don’t play a bunch, but I am making money when I do. Then look at the same stats for your favorite MTT expert poker blogger. Most are not profitable at MTTs at all despite 4 and 5 figure cashes. Transitioning to MTTs allowed me to explore some new material and keep the blog going to some extent. This year I have limited my poker to once or twice a week for a BBT4 MTT event or two, and that does not generate enough material to keep blogging about poker on a regular basis. I do have a lot to write about outside of poker though. So the question is do I kill this blog and start a new non-poker blog, or just expand the scope of this blog? I decided to expand the scope of this blog to include whatever I want to write about. Poker content will continue when I am inspired to write something, but most posts will not have anything to do with poker. We will see how it goes.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Observations on the Recession

I have noticed a few interesting changes lately.  Are they recession related?

Long hair seems to be back in again.

Last year's fashions are holding up surprisingly well this season.

People seem to be sticking to their diets a bit more than usual.

The checkout lines at Nordstom's seem easier to navigate.

You can actually see people "Walking in L.A.".

Airport security efficiency seems way up, with much shorter lines.

You don't need to be famous like Dr. Pauly to get a same day reservation at a trendy high end restaurant.  

Street performers seem more plentiful nowadays.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Two BBT4 Hands

The following two hands are from last nights riverchasers.

The Old Semibluff Re-raise.

I had horrible position at a very tough table to start the Riverchasers.  Sitting a bit low at this point, I pick up a medium suited one gapper.

Full Tilt Poker Game #11792942906: PPI / Riverchasers Tournament  (87573776), Table 5 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:16:45 ET - 2009/04/20
Seat 2: lightning36 (3,180)
Seat 3: DaBag (3,125)
Seat 4: Blinders (2,160)
Seat 5: pvanharibo (3,065)
Seat 6: lucko21 (3,000)
Seat 7: cmitch (2,830)
Seat 8: -o-LuckTruck-o- (3,465)
Seat 9: heffmike (3,175)
pvanharibo posts the small blind of 20
lucko21 posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Blinders [7s 5s]
cmitch folds
-o-LuckTruck-o- folds
heffmike folds
lightning36 folds
DaBag calls 40
Blinders calls 40

button limp after a limp seemed ok here

pvanharibo calls 20
lucko21 checks
*** FLOP *** [2h 5h 8s]
pvanharibo checks
lucko21 checks
DaBag checks
Blinders checks

I could have bet 2nd pair for value here, but I figured it would be better to see if my outs to draws come in, and I also had tricky players behind me.

*** TURN *** [2h 5h 8s] [4s]
pvanharibo bets 120
lucko21 calls 120
DaBag folds
Blinders raises to 280

So I now have a gut shot, a flush draw, and outs to trips and two pair.  Nobody has shown any real strength here, so there is a decent chance that I may also be ahead as well.  The semi-bluff re-raise in position gives me a chance to take it down right here, if the others are weak.  If not, I am building the the pot for the river in case I hit my draw.  I figure if I get called once I will get called twice giving me great pot odds at my draw.  Also, if I miss, I might catch a free showdown if they check down to the turn better. 

pvanharibo calls 160
lucko21 calls 160
*** RIVER *** [2h 5h 8s 4s] [Ac]
pvanharibo checks
lucko21 checks
Blinders checks

Two callers and a check down on the river as was expected to some extent.  Had I hit, I would have been able to value bet against a T1000 pot.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Blinders shows [7s 5s] a pair of Fives
pvanharibo shows [Kd 8h] a pair of Eights
lucko21 mucks

Almost enough anyway.

pvanharibo wins the pot (1,000) with a pair of Eights
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 1,000 | Rake 0 

Limping from early with KK

I can't over emphasize the value of the early limp with a big pair at an aggressive table in the mid to late stages of a MTT when you have a below average stack.  It works like a champ so often, you really need it in your playbook.  You are taking some additional risk, but at this point in an MTT when you are short, the double up is much more important than the risk of a bustout.  This move works extra good in Blogger MTTs, due to their aggressive nature.  If 2/3rds of the table will open raise / call push with 72o the expectation value of the play is all the better.

Full Tilt Poker Game #11793662507: PPI / Riverchasers Tournament  (87573776), Table 3 - 50/100 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:00:52 ET - 2009/04/20
Seat 1: VinNay (11,895)
Seat 2: lucko21 (4,355)
Seat 3: Astin (4,020)
Seat 4: cmitch (2,135)
Seat 5: Tony Eusebio (2,655)
Seat 6: Blinders (2,035)
Seat 7: noollab (7,980)
Seat 8: Joanne1111 (8,525)
Seat 9: BuddyDank (1,905)
Astin posts the small blind of 50
cmitch posts the big blind of 100
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Blinders [Kc Kh]
Tony Eusebio folds
Blinders calls 100

UTG is best for this, but UTG+1 is fine for a blogger MTT as long as the table is semi-full.   In this case I am way short and need some chips.

noollab folds
Joanne1111 calls 100
BuddyDank folds
VinNay calls 100

lucko21 folds

Astin calls 50

cmitch checks

*** FLOP *** [Qc 6h 4h]

Five way flop.  Pretty much worst case scenario.  With a deeper stack I would play this one safe, but with a Q high flop here, I need to roll the dice a bit and keep playing for a double through.

Astin bets 300

cmitch folds

Blinders raises to 600

Time to narrow the field without chasing away the opening better if possible.

Joanne1111 folds
VinNay folds
Astin calls 300
*** TURN *** [Qc 6h 4h] [4d]
Astin checks
Blinders bets 1,000

Value bet

Astin has 15 seconds left to act
Astin raises to 2,000
Blinders calls 335, and is all in
Astin shows [Qd Ts]
Blinders shows [Kc Kh]
Uncalled bet of 665 returned to Astin
*** RIVER *** [Qc 6h 4h 4d] [2s]
Astin shows two pair, Queens and Fours
Blinders shows two pair, Kings and Fours
Blinders wins the pot (4,370) with two pair, Kings and Fours
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 4,370 | Rake 0

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photo Contest #3

I'm back from a one week vacation.  No BBT for a week so I let my early 4th place for April go to waste.  Above is an image from the trip.  First one to identify exactly where this was taken wins photo contest #3 and a $10 transfer the the online site of choice (Limited to FT, PS, or FSL)

I played the riverchasers, and donked it up early getting it all-in preflop with JJ vs. KK.  That sounds pretty ugly and it was, but lets just run through it.  I had opened 3x from UTG for T150.  UTG+1 Jams for about 1.9k.  Folds back to me.  I can easily let this go, but I started thinking about it.  What kind of hands do you jam with there?  Nothing I would jam with there, but lets just say 77-AA, AK, AQ or some BS like that.  AA & KK seem the least likely of the group, as you would want to raise less for value.  Also, this guy was already down to 1.9k early.  A bit loose with the chips or what ever.  If I call and am wrong, I still have 850 or something and not dead. All this made me feel that it was even more likely that it was a 77-QQ or AK type hand.  I felt very priced in.  Its not a straight forward play though, and you need to play straight forward early in MTTs so its an interesting hand.  I made the call and lost 2/3 of my stack.  I would catch AA later and double through for breathing room, and then caught a few medium pots here and there to make the final 2 tables pretty short.  From there I folded to the points.  Well that's what it looked like.  I was just hanging around waiting for some cards to rally with.  I did not really think I would make the top 12 when I was last out of 18.  I would either catch a few breaks and make the FT, or bounce out early and out of the points.  The others dropped, and I was way short and all in with Ten high preflop ahead of a 6 high hand.  The river would wash me out with a few points for my efforts.    


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Mookie Final Table

I made a deep run in last night's Mookie. It was a pretty improbable run, but I had a great chance at the win late. I was pretty low most of the way until I rallied late with some preflop jam double throughs. When we got down to about 12 players I was the shorty by far. We played through a lenghty FT bubble where I was supposed to get eliminated, but I fought, scratched, and clawed to stay alive. The FT bubble would finally burst and I would bring less than 5k to the FT and be a distant last place. I folded through a couple of eliminations, and then went on a triple up, double up, double up run to 65k in chips and the lead. The triple up and first double were with AQo in back to back hands. The next double was with a middle pair all-in preflop. I find it pretty easy to chip up at aggressive final tables as a low stack, and this gives me a chance whenever I make a blogger FT regardless of chip position. Both double ups were through aggressive players who were stabbing at the pot, and could not fold to my push. I am not saying they were not priced in to their plays, I am just saying that big hands are easy to double with at an aggressive Final Table. When a deep stack semi-bluffs or bluffs big at a pot, and you jam as a shorty, they often have to call. Sure they are priced in, but not nearly as good as you are. If you are willing to take stands at the right points, it is easy to get chips to move from the big stacks to the your small stack late. I hit some big hands and used them to move from worst to first in about an orbit. I would hold the lead down to four handed and had a realistic shot at my first mookie win. Eventually, I would lose the chip lead to an aggressive JJok, and end up getting bounced on a coinflip type hand in forth place. I am off to a nice start for April, but I will be lucky to get one of these blogger events in a week going forward.