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All Around the Place

Date: Tue, Jun 17, 2014 Live

I sent out the final update via email to my investors. Went deep in a deep stack for lint, and just missed a final table in an outside the Rio tournament. I traded well again, as I had a piece of the dude that chopped/won that tournament and had a tiny sliver of a guy that finished ~21st in the Millionaire Maker.

Tough run in Vegas, considering every package event, I lost my first big all-in hand (one time I had my opponent slightly covered) as a big favorite. While that in itself is not uncommon to lose as a big favorite, it's pretty unlikely for those hands to essentially happen consecutively every single FIRST time. Literally, I couldn't get anything going in any event despite getting it in great (Sets, overpairs etc. etc. etc).

Just like last year, I came back to New Orleans and played in a weekly. I mauled it. Couldn't miss in a 5 hour turbo with the kind of card run I couldn't get over the course of a week in Vegas. Poker can be cruel. It's the only game where you can be winning a tournament wondering why all your hands are holding and you are fading everything, and be pissed about winning money. Yeah. Ridiculous. Just give me a taste of that in one of those bigger events where I could have a chip stack and some momentum. Alright enough
bitching. It's on to World Cup time...


I think the sport is really catching hold stateside. The metrics are surprising to anybody over 30, google some studies it if you think it's just a passing fancy and nobody cares about it. In some ways, it's already HUGE, though the media and advertisers are somewhat unaware of how big it is among kids (I'm not talking participation I'm talking support of teams and players). Even haters have enjoyed the World Cup so far.

They say our country only has one major club team that elicits the same type of emotional investment that Europeans feel for their local clubs. That's our national team. Just the difference from four years in social media and the youtube videos of those massive congregations of people watching all over the country confirm the Men's National Team is getting a foothold in our national psyche. Late winning goals are rare in soccer, and holding onto a thin lead, or scrapping to get that one goal, can make even a drab scoreline an electric game. In a way, US fans have been spoiled with Donovan's heroics four years ago and Brooks' stunning header yesterday. Still, they know now why a 1-0 game can be thrilling and edge of your seat stuff.
I keep reading accounts how one game captivated an American sports fan and changed him into a US fan (despite "hating" soccer) and you got to feel we added thousands of new converts yesterday. That said our media, who I mentioned are behind the curve on this, just keep popping out bad articles by "journalists," and I'm referring to real journalists not just bloggers, just filled with errors. Even worse are their strange opinions that reflect having a little bit of knowledge and trying to make broad statement or assumptions that only show how ignorant they are in the grand scheme. One "reporter" said we should have lost the game 7-2 if there was any fairness in soccer. Pretty naiive about the fact even great teams sometimes have to "park the bus" in front of the goal to hold onto a lead. Such a massive difference tactically with soccer yet they only compare it to what they know baseball or basketball or football.

As for the U.S. Klinsman was one of my favorite players growing up. As a kid I lived in Germany and he's in my top three German players I rooted for all time. I also went to an English school and supported Liverpool football club. So every world cup I have three or more (depending on if other teams rely on Liverpool's players) passionate interests. The USA is finally relevant so of course they are number 1. I couldn't have been happier with them hiring a guy I have great respect for...

That said, he left Landon Donovan at home. I'll never understand that decision unless Landon was somehow some sort of closeted cancer to the locker room. Last night was a prime reason why you needed him on the bench. The U.S. essentially collapsed when Altidore pulled up lame and things got worse when the kid with a ton of potential Aron Johansson came on the field.

Had Landon, skills diminished or not (and that's arguable in some ways), come in, I think the game is far more balanced and we would have created a ton more chances. He's also great on the counter and instead of attacks stifling or whimpering out, he could have helped maintain some composure and possession. Whether or not you agree with me, and many don't, his leadership was missing at the very least at times we were rudderless.

Another critique is Klinsmann has preached we are going to be the fittest team in the world. There is such a thing as overtraining, and as U.S. player after U.S. player started going limp, I thought back to my high school soccer days. We had a coach who put us through three-a-days in the hot August sun for two weeks before school.

He preached that kind of excessive training was going to give us that extra bit of juice to in the 90th minute and help us win the state title. When 1/3 of our team started picking up injuries, hamstring pulls, and breaking down, I'd often wonder how we were getting in shape if we were watching from the sidelines. In theory having a team of marathon runners would be an advantage but lots of people get hurt trying to become a marathoner in too short a time. I hope Klinsmann didn't overtrain us. We have to go the rainforest of Manus and after watching the England-Italy game there, I'm very worried about us leaving there needing points against Germany.

The turnaround between game 2 and 3 is much shorter than 1 and 2 and we already seem spent. Us and Portugal going there is a huge advantage for Ghana and Germany. We really got the shaft with that one.

Alright, probably more poker and less soccer next time. Probably. I do have world cup fever so no guaranteess.

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Headaches Real and Imagined... and thankfully some Asprin

Date: Mon, Jun 2, 2014 Live

First some good news, which we'll explore later, but Package buyers we have 1% of a player still alive in the Millionaire Maker. Also, I cashed 84th out of 1500+ people for some pocket lint in a deep stack yesterday. I didn't get grossly unlucky and I feel the tide has turned a little bit. I'm excited for the Deep Stack tournament at the Venetian. Now the bad news.

Since, I've landed I've dealt with a fairly painful and consistent headache that fluctuates in its intensity from awful to annoying and also bouts of nausea. At times, I've felt unsteady and on some of my down time, I've literally been in a darkened room, trying to avoid light and lying down. It's bit like taking medicine on an empty stomach or drinking too much caffeine. That feeling can be worse than the headache. It sucks.

At times, on this trip, I've thought about not playing but I think making an honest assessment of myself, I've been playing really well, just been unlucky in some critical spots. In fact, in some ways, the jitteriness has caused me to be a little more disciplined at the table--and surprisingly enough, once I'm there it's kind of like the pain and jitteriness is suppressed, I'm too focused to notice. I thought it would be the opposite but it's not.

Why the headache? I'm not sure. Before I left my son kicked me by accident on the temple. He backed kicked wildly and just connected in the right spot. I reeled and I had a headache for about two days. Then on my flight in I was hunched over my tray top table reading a book and the heavy guy in front of me hit the lean back button, without the resistance his seat dropped back and cranked my skull like a piledriver. Both times I had a mini-black out.

My history with concussions is a lengthy one. In fact, I've been watching all this NFL stuff with a really weary eye to my future. I hope I don't have to deal with any of the crap those guys do. MOST of my trauma was before I was 21 and I hope that will help. As a kid I was a bit of a Troy Aikman/Eric Lindros type. I don't know how many concussions I've had but I know its' a lot. Some of them include getting hit on the back of the head with a metal baseball bat (had to see a neurologist had bouts of losing the lower half of my field of vision with that one), getting dropped on my head on a stone church floor (thanks big brother), taking a charge in junior high basketball and cracking my head on the court, getting knocked out in a head on car accident with a light pole and countless other spots. Considering me and my brother used to box each other "for fun" with gloves we got growing up (he's currently 6'7+ and has always been a giant to me) and many times he'd land a haymaker and I'd see stars. I feel like I've been lucky, to not be too effected by this up to now.

Nonetheless, nowadays even light contact with my head can give me a dull headache.

So, I suspect my pain is concussion related. As stated, I don't think this has effected my play. I talked to one of ya'll in the package and he said it could be a simple sinus infection caught on my travels and the dry air here screwing up my skull. My kids have also been battling some cold/head congestion so it could be that too. I haven't had fever so I don't know about being sick, but nor have I had uneven pupils or the really worrisome concussion symptomes that would demand immediate medical attention (according to google).

Regardless, I feel my head starting to clear a bit today. I don't know if yesterday's slight good news had anything to do with it.

So, on to the poker. I played the millionaire maker and having registered early I discovered I might have been on the toughest starting table in the enitre field. With 7000+ in this, somehow when I sat down I looked at Noach Schwartzs, Randy Lew, a tough Euro who I've seen on a WPT final table, and old live pro who used to be on Poker After Dark (who was talking with actor James Woods during breaks). The other guys had at least two players who's faces looked familiar to me, and I don't think it was from playing on the coast--so probably from TV too. Talk about running bad. We did have on
e spot on the table but he was on my immediate left.

Schwartz played spewy, as he admitted himself (trying to chip up or rebuy), but early on the real star was the Euro who was punishing everybody. I thought he was super aggro but after the first break where he had already chipped up to 4x he tightened up like a nit. Either he changed gears or ran super hot early. I don't know.

What was interesting is Randy Lew opened too much and I 3bet him a few times, and Schwartz was calling a lot trying to smash flops and stack people. He just pissed away chips for the most part. After I lost a couple of pots, I couldn't find a hand for a while. Then my image of being tight probably got folds. Again, back to the headache, and probably being on the worst table in the RIO, I felt I really picked my hands well and chipped up slowly just picking on weakness. After the second break I really felt comfortable and thought they were buying the story I like to sell. Ubernit. Then I scooped a number of pots with 3bets.

When I settled in I realized if I'm going to win a million dollars I got to beat these guys sooner or later so why not sooner.

One hand I struggled with was when I looked at the beautiful AA in the small blind. Schwartz had allowed his stack to get down to a little over 1k-ish. A tight player opend UTG for a min raise (blinds 75-150). Schwartz called. In retrospect, I think I should have flatted, but I three bet (and I probably bet too big). My thought was tight guy UTG range is pretty narrow near the top of his range, so he's probably going to give me action. If not Schwartz had just committed 15% of his stack on the call. I think he might be looking to get it in.

Instead both fold. What probably I should have done was call or min-raised to induce. Then check the flop, hope UTG checks and let Schwartz shove into weakness and call any board.

So, despite being a nit, now I've three bet a few times, and players I sense are readjusting their assessment of me. A rotation earlier Lew opened in early position, the fairly disciplined Asian kid to my right called, and I looked at 6c4c. I felt I could steal here, so put in the three bet and scooped the pot, but the Asian kid didn't like folding. That's when I noticed my credibility was on thin ice bit, so time to dial it back. Trending upward and feeling comfortable at the table, things started to feel good, had plenty of chips and all day play.

Then Lew opens again. The Asian kid calls again, and I peel back QQ on the button.

This is perfect. If I am right about the table about to adjust to me, Lew might shove his fairly short stack into me, or... the kid to my right might play back. So, I make it a little bit bigger than normal threebet to make them think it looked fishy...

Lew didn't bite. The kid took forever and counted out his chips. He was not Hollywooding and I was 100% I was way in the lead. He just called Lew's bet with either a middle pair or AQ or more likely AJ. I know AK, KK, and AA are never in his range, so I was insta-calling if he decided to go nuts and shove. That's just what he did. SWEET!

I get it in with QQ he turns over JJ... I couldn't be happier with the way that played out.

Preflop we win 80% of the time. After the flop ran clean, giving him zero additional back door outs and we jumped up to over 90%. Things are looking up
On the turn, I couldn't be unhappier as he made his set....

Gross. In my head I processed all the beats I've taken where my opponents have gotten it in with way the worst of it and my hands just didn't hold. Losing two sets to two flush draws and now overpair getting cracked, I was angry. I really played so well, but just couldn't win the big showdown. Ugh.

So, I thought about it and decided I'd adjust the package. Rather then play the 1k on Sunday, I'd play flight B of the Millionaire Maker ($500 more). Play for a million or a couple 100k, I think everybody bought into the idea of chasing a million. Course that meant I'd have to pull $500 out of the package elsewhere. I didn't think about it too much, the bad beats had to end lets jump back in.

Flight B, we traded 1% with one friend and 2% with another. Then I looked at a glorious starting table that had nobody I recognized and based on their play really a table mostly of people over the head. Wow. Great decision I think. I immediately chip up, and hope we won't break soon. I'm just stealing pots with aggression and everybody looking not to go bust. Well, everybody but one. To this point I hadn't been playing any hands with the lady on my right. That would change.

I finally find a hand after stealing with napkins. One guy limps utg (so weak), the lady limps behind and I spy AsKs, yum. I put out a big bet. The button who is probably one of the two decent players at the table has had I think enough of my act, but just called. The lady quickly calls too.

Flop is beautiful. AQ4 rainbow. She checks, I put out a big cbet. Button doesn't like it but folds, she instacalls. Turn is a K. Now, I'm just trying to figure out how to get her stack in. She checks and I put a bet out that I thought if she called she might have to call off on the river.

...She raises.

Now, here is a situation of playing with bad players in low buy-in tournaments should instantly make me realize I've stepped in it. This is why I think I'm such a favorite in these massive fields here and a good investment. If I had the bankroll I'd play every one of these donkaments every summer. Getting check raised by a bad call station/weak player I have a rule I should have minimum top two and most of the times that's not good. Still, I was in the mindset maybe from my previous flight of people have wider ranges. Easily one of those guys could have floated me on the flop and be making a move on the turn, thinking I'm full of it, just because I've been way too active. Here I don't know.

I think it through... Set of fours. No, she limped called she has to have more than fours right? The board isn't a flush draw and most amateurs don't protect from weird braodway draws, so she wouldn't raise a set of fours on the turn would she? Think she would wait to river or just have done it on flop. Think we can rule that out. Well, she must have hit her King. This is where her hand got good. Jack 10? No, she can't be that bad to call Jack 10 pre and then post flop with only for a gut shot. No way I hit my king for two pair and that makes her a straight. Okay, she's got have two pair then, because she doesn't have a set of Aces, Kings, or Queens. AQ? KQ? Hmmm. AK also? Her stack is such that I have to push if I'm continuing with the hand.

I push she insta-calls. Jack 10. WTF?

A guy, one of the two guys I thought who could play, says, I knew she had Jack 10 when she raised. So now, I'm short. Though PLENTY of time. I saw Schwartz and Randy Lew milk their short stacks forever in flight A, I know how to play a short stack, I'm good I tell mysel. But really, I wasn't I think I finally hit tilt. This lady's gutshot was like a gunshot. Enough with the bad beats.

In retrospect, the guy was right. She has Jack 10 and only Jack 10 there. I gave her too much credit and I know better because I play bad players all the time. I know it sounds crazy but I think AK is a fold on the turn, or a call/fold when I miss the river. I can make that fold, it's not easy, but it's totally doable. And I didn't do it. This time I put the money in when I was behind. No miracle suckout for me though.

Later, in the big blind they let me see a flop where I make a pair, and turn a flush draw. She checks to me on the turn and I bet 250, but only had an oversized chip and a pile of greens. So, I announce 250 and put in the yellow 1k chip. Then as she stews she watches me put up two green chips ($25) to make it easier for the dealer to make change. Then she puts out the exact same chips 1 yellow and two greens. Then she says she wants to call. The players correctly inform her it's a raise. What a shit storm. I call.

River completes three spades, I was on a club draw. She puts me in. At this point, I can't fold. I call. She rivered the flush with J10 again. Awesome. If she just called the 250 on the turn I could still fold the river, and have a glimmer of hope. I left steaming angry. This lady also angle shot/or dumbly didn't post her blind and got away with it... which I've never seen before. Mostly dealer error but I obviously was not a fan.

... So. The millionaire maker was a bust. I think I regret playing that second flight or maybe not taking a longer break in between.

I left the Rio poker room and went to my room and dealt with my headache. Decided, I take the next morning off and then play the $235. Had I not altered my package it would be the last $235 I was offering. However, I'm out $500 so if I took the $235 out, I'd be out $265 and the package would have that as extra... sounds fair. Course, I didn't notify anybody.

Therefore, that $235 is in the package and the extra $500 is on me.

I sit down in that 235 after a morning of reflection and decide to just keep putting it in good, and persevere. Poker has bad streaks and for some reason Vegas has been bad to me. It'll change.

We sit down, and I get AK. I raise the limpers and get two callers. I connect with a King. I bet the flop and then the turn. The board is Kq10x The river puts four spades on the board with another 10 and I don't have one. They check to me, and I check behind. First guy has KJ no spade. The second guy? Pocket f'ing 3s with a three of spades. WTF? How does he call pre, post and the turn. Somehow I don't go into full blown monkey tilt. I remind myself I want him to play hands and I think the morning off did me a lot of good. Speaking to my kids, and my wife, I was reenergized. If I was going to get sucked out again I could handle it.

Then, I see an update from my buddy and he's in the MONEY in the millionaire maker. What? Sweet. Our first package cash of the summer. Something positive from this trip. 7000 players are down to 700. He's gone deep in one of these donkaments before so even though he was short we have hope.

Things started to change in the 235 deepstack. I play well and chip back up for a while, and then blinds catch up to me (and everybody). I get Ah8h and shove. I get reshoved by a good Asian player, a guy who was berating the dealers for taking too long tanks forever, and shoves, and then a short stack in the big blind says "this is my chance to quadruple and puts his chips in." They turn over KK, QQ, and Jh4h. Both the K and Q of hearts exposed. Unlike when I felt I'd lose with my sets, this time I knew I was going to win. I was due. Bam A in the window and clean all the way through.

We have 1500+ people in this event with 45k up top. I pick my spots and despite the immensely talented WSOP ring winner and new bride
Natasha Barbour sitting down immediately on my left and quickly chipping up, I navigate a tough table for the rest of the day. A german player had a lot of chips and was playing brilliantly. He knocked out Natasha to become a monster chip stack when she made a move.

He talked like Arnold Schwarznegger. Once we were waiting for players to be added to the table. He said let's do the color up now, sell your little chips to the big stack. Somebody, said we had another level to do that. Imagine Arnold saying, "NO! When we wait... WE WORK!" The table complied. I couldn't resist needling him about that German efficiency. That will be a catchphrase in my head for a long time, having lived in Germany I can't think of something more German than that mantra.

On the bubble, I desperately wanted to cash, even if it was for lint just to get some positive momentum going, I had to pull the trigger twice with AK. The first time I double through the German, and the second time while on hand for hand, I had to shove on a new big stack in the Big Blind. He released and we made our first cash of this trip.

Meanwhile, my buddy kept surviving.

On a break I found him, and peaked in on him. It's been two years, and I think the last two times he's seen me I've had a goatee. Despite making eye contact from afar I don't think he recognizes me. Lol. The day prior I saw another player, Matt "WhatDaHell" Chang, in the line to register for Flight B, that I hadn't seen in two years and he totally big timed me and didn't recognize me at all. Who knew a goatee would make such a big difference. He was steaming from busting the morning session, like me, and rather then big time me he thought I was just some random. He immediately tweeted about it, which I read and then we talked when the lines snaked us by each other again and he apologized.

That was my third awkward moment of the week. First? Seeing Corrie Wunstel and thinking he looked down. I kind of playfully asked if he was feeling alright. He said yes. Later I discovered he just busted the 25k mixed max. Yeah, I get mad about busting a 1k, don't know how I'd feel busting a 25k.

The second? Seeing my friend Blake Barousse in the hallway. I was excited to see him as I knew that day he'd be returning to the table third in chips out of 12 playing for his first bracelet and like ~360k up top in a 1k buy-in event. I tell him Congrats, and before I could ask him he when he'd restart he told me he just busted. What?

One of the first hands he lost a flip QQ to AK. God. 11 away from a bracelet and plenty of chips. Gutted for him. I don't think there is anybody that knows Blake that doesn't like him. Never heard a bad word said about him, so bummed one of the good guys didn't get it.

So, if our horse in the Millionaire Maker didn't recognize me from afar, I'm sure that will just set up some future awkward interaction in the coming days.

Anyway, back to my tournament, 170 made the money and gradually we whittled down to under 100. After another break, I found an ace on the button unopened. I shoved on a kid who I kept getting hands against and he stood up to me with 88. I didn't improve and finished 84th. $590. We'll take it. Really wanted to play for first, but sometimes you just need to get that first cash and get some momentum. Nothing to sneeze about outlasting 1400 people.

I ran back to the main room to try see if my buddy was still alive and and caught the very end of Phil Hellmuth losing to Ted Forest for the bracelet heads up in Razz. I took a picture of the hand that broke his heart and crippled Phil. I looked for my boy but they had broke his table and I couldn't spot him anywhere. Oh well. At least yesterday was better than the days before it.

So, I went to bed.

When I woke up? Good news. We still have 1% of a guy that's still alive with under 180 left in the massive millionaire maker. He snaps this off we chop up 13k. Follow on his name is Jeremy Halaska and he's from Ohio. We met playing circuit events last year. Great kid. Great player. He busts next we add ~$75 to the package. Peanuts so far but it's a start.

Also, I have the $1100 tournament over at the Venetian tomorrow which should be massive. They give us a deep stack and great structure so I'm looking forward to playing a tournament where it's not going to be shove/fold (like last night) until really late. There is 300k guaranteed but I think they'll smash it. I'll be playing something or other on my own dime today (already gave an extra small event to the package yesterday), so those with the bonuses have something to sweat. Just to make it interesting for those not in the bonus, I'll give 1/4 per cent to whatever I play today. Who knows maybe I'll snap something off.

This week is definitely getting better. Nothing like cashing and rooting for a friend to win a bracelet to be an aspirin for a bad headache.

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Date: Sat, May 31, 2014 Live

So I bricked another one of the small deep stack tournaments in my package. I chipped up pretty quickly and despite playing at the best table I've played at so far managed to bulldoze my way to a chip stack with no cards. I played pretty snug until I felt like I had established an image. In late position I opened (don't remember the holding) and I ended up triple barreling a guy on a board that got wetter and wetter. He found a fold and I wondered what he had on the turn that he couldn't call the river.

Later, I kind of fell into a hand that I felt pretty proud of... a guy in late position to my left had been punishing the limpers, I didn't limp all day but I thought I might be able to create some free money, when predictably the UTG dude limped again. So did UTG+1. I was in mid position with Qd9d. It didn't matter what I had per se, but I felt like that hand fared all right postflop if the plan I was fostering with awry. So I limped.

As I hoped, the guy on the button put out a raise 4x the button's bet. Just as predictably the best player at the table in the bb, jumped in with a call. The two limpers followed suit. Time for a back raise. I thought the button was good enough to recognize this as strength, same with the big blind. I think amateur players just focus on the fact I initially limped from mid position and don't give the raise any credit. Better players recognize I could be making a sophisticated move with a hand. I done just this with big pairs when the table dynamic allowed it.

When the first two folded, I was fairly sure I'd get through. The first limper folded but the second limper was having none of that. He called. Big pot. I was cbetting any flop. It came Jack high. He checked and he folded almost before my chips hit the center of the table.

So, I continued to chip up and then hit a couple of hands.

The best player at the table and I were chipleaders, until they moved a kid from England to our table with a ton of chips. Nonetheless I felt we somewhat dodging one another. Then this happened. He opened from early position. I looked at 99s and decided just to call.

Bam! 9 ball on the flop. He checks to me. I bet out as there are two spades and the board is a little bit co-ordinated. He raises. Been through this drill before. Check-raising the draw. Alright, I overship and he calls. He has a pair and a flush draw. We are about 70% to win. Turn is dry. River is the spade.

Sucks... without showdown I had doubled my starting stack. My first real big hand and I was walking for the exit.

Now on to the mistakes.

Twice I felt I didn't listen to my gut.

I played a big hand in a tournament later that day when I opened with Jacks, a fairly solid player three bet me. I called and flop came King high. He led into me and did two tells (one bet sizing the other vocal) that let me know he didn't love the board. I should have raised him there. I immediately narrowed his range to just a few hands like QQ, 1010 or AQ maybe 99.

Instead of rasining I called with the idea I'd reevaluate on later streets. A king on the turn slowed us down. Now, it was a little harder for me to represent a King in my hand. We both checked. When he did, I knew I was going to bet the river to dictate how much more I'd have to put in the pot. I led out and he called with QQ.

My mistakes in that hand were allowing myself to play a biggish pot with JJ against a capable and tight player. Could easily fold there (that table unlike the deep stack earlier) was the easiest I played all week so plenty of other spots to get chips. Next it wasn't listening to my gut and going for it on the flop with a raise. Lastly the river blocking bet. I shove there or bet large and I don't think he can call.

Now, his hand was transparent to me, but I'm not so sure my hand was face up to him. I think I could easily have AK and check the turn to him, so hard for him to call off on the river, I think. High risk but better to go for it than not.

Another time I didn't listen to my gut and push back I was also punished. In a blind v. blind hand from a tournament two days ago I had 107 and flopped a 7. Also was a 53--two hearts on the board. I bet he called. Turn was a third heart but was a 2. I checked for pot control and he insta bet (strong is weak) and I knew he didn't hit his flush. Also wasn't worried about A4. Actually because he didn't bet pre as he did with any ace I wasn't worried about an Ace.

So I call. The river is a four. I check and then he bets out with strength (no verbal weakness either) and I study the board. Only thing that beat me was a six. How could he go from weak on the turn to strong on the river. I call instead of folding. I know I'm beat but I can't resist seeing why. He shows 96. He flopped a double gutter.

Ugh. Listen to your gut, and don't call to see. Trust you are right and let it go.

Alright Millionaire Maker is just a couple of hours away. I can't wait to play long levels (despite the short starting stack) and really focus. Have some friends who made some deep runs, one is one of twelve with a shot at a bracelet today, go Blake B!

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Back to Vegas II...

Date: Fri, May 30, 2014 Live

I decided to get a good night's rest and get geared up for the bigger events this weekend and next week. I woke up at 5am local time, can you tell I have little ones at home, and tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. Planned out today, play this $75 turbo mega satellite and then play another $235 and we'll go from there.

Turbo was gross... I won't play another turbo mega. These guys had no clue and would tank for two minutes every decision. Levels are ten minutes short. We literally went through two levels with the blinds increasing, without the button even making one round around the table. It was frustrating. I also didn't get any cards. Just watching guys tank folding and asking for counts and then folding, and tanking before acting preflop was just ridiculous. Half the table got it, the other half acted like they were at the final table of the Main Event and making Million Dollar decisions.

An Asian kid, who had little clue was getting run over by the deck. I noticed how when people run good the rest of the table hates them, like it's their fault luck shined on them that day. Also, if they are aggro people don't like them, too. I remember telling this to Caufman Tally, who's a little aggro, and he seemed surprised by that. Yeah, when you constantly beat people, they don't like you. It's a side effect of being good. Everybody was bitching about this Asian kid, not because he was good but because he was lucky.

Me, I was fine with him getting chips because I knew he'd likely lose them. To start his heater, with a little under 2k in chips he limped under the gun at 50 100. He got raised to 500. He called. Flop came 7710. He bet, his opponent shoved. He called, his opponent had Queens he had... J7 suited. Yeah, limping J7 never going to win you a tournament. Calling a raise for more than 1/4 of your stack with J7, again, never going to win you a tournament.

The next hand he cracked Queens again when he had Kings. One of the grumblers complained about him slowrolling the guy... even though he was the one who shoved. Yes, he hollywooded (which sucks in a turbo) when his bet was raised, he stewed like he had a decision and then he shoved, but not a slowroll. I started to explain the difference but stopped. If this guy thinks disguising the strength of your hand by taking a while to act is slowrolling I'm not going to tell him different. Hopefully, he'll move confidently and quickly every time he has a big hand against me.

Later I got 10s on the button, the Asian Kid limped, the grumbler shoved over the top. I thought this was a good spot to flip, as I didn't think the grumbler would shove his stack size with any super-premium hands. He's also seen the Asian Kid limp terrible hands, so, most likely his shove isn't a big hand. I probably had at worse to fade Jacks in his range, but I had most of his other likely holdings either crushed or 50/50. The Asian Kid shoved when it got back to him. So much for flipping.

The grumbler had Ace Jack o/s. The Asian Kid just Kings again. Flop put a jack out there but the rest of the board was uneventful. So two players had me beat.

Anyway, nothing really out of the ordinary so far. I'm kind of glad I'm not just running over people in these small buy-in events. Let's get all run good in the Milly Maker and the other 1k ish events.

What's been useful for me is getting comfortable with the west coast style. Seems most of these players are from LA and the Commerce casino. I barely recognize or see many players from the Gulf Coast so all my reads are new. They play a little more aggro, rarely does the hand get folded to late position, but they are also foolhardy in what percentage of their chips they are willing to risk with subpar hands.

There are a few types I'm noticing from world series to world series. In the $185 buy-in three guys were talking about playing the $10-$25 games at the Aria, and Bellagio. Talking about winning 20k in a good night. Why aren't you there? They also were targets. Either the cash games have some big fish in them, or cash players just have no clue how to play tournaments. I can't tell you how many people I was happy to see at my tournament tables yesterday who I later saw sitting with big stacks in the cash games. Maybe I'm chasing a windmill when I should be fishing in the cash games.

Back to the types, I keep seeing.... There are old guys who play a style that the game has passed up. Yet, they struggle onward wondering why it's not working for them anymore. You can see it on their face when they get attacked, by threebets and are constantly being isolated. There are kids, who are all gamble and just pounding the accelerator, who can't quite grasp that 100 mph the entire tournament doesn't always work. There are guys just there to look cool and tell their friends they played at the WSOP. There are the grinders trying to survive the minefields like me.

There are the folks who like me years ago, are trying to hide their inexperience, but whenever they talk they reveal too much. Or if they don't talk when their bet sizing is off, you know. You can see it on their face, their hands are practically face up. I remember Mimi Tran eviscerating me at a WSOP mega satellite years ago, seeing I was the fish and just attacking every chance she had. Now I know what she saw, that indecision, that inexperience, that weakness.

There are the bookies and the drug dealers playing like there is no tomorrow. They confront the dealers and imply they are a tough guy away from the table, but try at the same time to be gregarious and friendly at the table. Their veneer of false charm is as empty as their skills. There are thugs and douches who are all testosterone and no brains, and wives of players that are just killing time. Blend that all together and spit it out on a random table and that's what you have to deal with it. In some ways it's harder than playing good players, and it makes me realize just how good the weekly regs in New Orleans are. Yeah, they are exploitable in their own way, but fundamentally most are far better than the average fish here.

I think this is great practice as many of the Millionaire Maker's participants will be the same players here to take their shot in that event. Every locale has a personality and a style, I think. Tunica will call you down with top pair and Ace high, so value betting is vital and bluffing ill advised. These West Coasters, that mostly populate this event, I'm starting to figure out.

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Back To Vegas...

Date: Fri, May 30, 2014 Live

I'm.... Back!

I've been to the World Series a few times. The first time I covered the event for a now defunct online Poker site when that whole poker media/poker industry were in their infancy and there was just an explosion of companies blooming around the poker boom. It was an exhilarating time. I watched a number of final tables. I saw movie star Jennifer Tilly win her bracelet. I also saw her with about fifty players left in the same tournament get up to leave when she had hit a miracle card to win the pot but didn't see it. The ladies called her back to the table. I wrongly thought to myself she's not going to last too much longer if she can't read the board. Yeah...

she won that tournament. Nice read.

I also saw her man Phil Laak and Johnny Chan battling at a final table. I watched a final table where Chip Jett was in contention and talked to his (I think) father-in-law and then later he introduced me to his daughter Chip's wife Karina Jett. At that point, these people were folks I had only seen on TV. Because of ESPN's programming they felt about as far away from my skill level as a weekend duffer and Master's golfer. I wasn't quite a fanboy, but on the inside I was geeking out a little bit. ESPN had done a feature on the Jetts the year before so it was cool to see they (even as far down as they were on the poker pantheon) were down to Earth. Now, that I've played poker for a while, I can't believe I ever revered some of these people or put them on a pedestal. (Btw, not slighting the Jetts both seemed like good people).

My reporter's pass allowed me to roam in between the ropes and I watched every pro you can think of; and I remember specifically stopping to watch Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Phil Helmuth, Phil Gordon and Chris Moneymaker himself. Back then I didn't know enough to know to rank those guys correctly. Moneymaker had to be the best he won the WSOP right? I kind of just took in the experience as a reporter but absorbed it as an aspiring poker player. I wanted to be back to participate. I was hooked. I played a little around the fringes of the WSOP and did alright, but at that point the players on the other side of the ropes were literally a world away, though I felt I desire to jump in.

I came back and played a 1500 a year or so later. That was brief, as it also was for three or four of my inexperienced friends that dipped their toes in the water too. None of us came close to the dinner break. With only 1500 in chips back then you really couldn't afford to lose a pot. I also took what to this day is one of my worst beats. No, it's not a typical bad beat story. (I know I've repeated this on this blog before so sorry for the rehash). I made a read on a guy that he was bluffing the river and called. He wanted to muck. I was happy for him to muck.

He started to and then at the last moment, he sheepishly said something like "I missed" and turned over his busted straight draw. Course, he hadn't missed the backdoor flush draw. The dealer looked at me and shook his head. I lost most of my chips to a guy that wasn't able to read the board. My opponent didn't understand why the pot was pushed to him, and his first instinct was to push it toward me which made it even grosser... me having to explain to him that he won the hand. So even though I was briefly in that world it was not for long enough.

A couple of years later, I came back for the National Championship and a short run of tournaments and I ran about as badly as you can. I kept getting big hands and they kept getting cracked. Or, these guys would get it in bad against me, I'd call and the dealer would just lower the boom and bring the pain on the turn or the river. It bundled together in one long bout of agony. Still, I knew enough about sample size to know that as gross as it was, I just happened to deal with a pitfall in variance at the WSOP.

While I was going through it, I couldn't even go outside to catch my breath. That year there were fires in the mountains in the distance and whenever you stepped out you could taste the acridity from the smoke. It's Las Vegas so it's hot. You run bad, you are roasting, you literally taste fire and this place can feel like hell.

In retrospect, that was an interesting year, and should have been no surprise I ended up in hell. I had written about Tunica as I was chasing Circuit points and that it reminded me a bit like the play Waiting For Godot, a purgatory in the middle of nowhere (that was a pretty good post you can probably find it with the search function). Everyday I'd go deep in those massive fields and then lose a flip. Wake up and repeat. Later, I landed in Chester, Pennsylvania still in need of points, and that Harrahs casino was located in an area that can be at best described as blighted. At worst, the first level of hell. They had a gas leak and we all had to leave the tournament area. The smell of sulfur was intense. I was getting closer to hell.

I still experienced some success and broke the Groundhogs day effect in Tunica and went deep in two Chester tournaments to get me the points I needed to qualify. In Vegas, though, success was but a dream. Some call it Paradise, but it was Paradise Lost for me. No, hell is getting it in good over and over again and it not holding.

This go around, I'm determined to have a positive mindset. I feel like the blows I've suffered here previously, while not out of the ordinary in terms of variance, have to turn. The Beau Rivage was like that and then finally things went my way in the last Main Event this year. Tunica, I persevered. Chester I pushed through it. Granted saying "I'm due" is wasted thought. Each tournament is it's own battle, each table, each hand an even smaller battle. None have any bearing on the other. At the same time, we all know these things go in streaks.

Yesterday, I landed and was a little tired. I had considered late reging the 1k but thought better of it and just played the deep stack. I have three of these $235 events on my package. Thought it would be a good way to get back into the groove. That didn't last long.

On the button I flop a set and a guy gets in a raising war with me, and I'm pretty sure he just has a flush draw. I'm a big favorite 73% or so to win. We get it in. Board doesn't pair on the turn and then he hits his heart to win on the river. That was fun. My mind raced back to the lingering pain from the last time I was in Paradise. I reminded myself I want to take these coolers in the small events.

I played the 185 on my own dime. Survived more than half the field and got to the point it became a shove fest for most of the table. I had no hands. Then got it in good with King Jack on the button vs. a guy who got out of line with 97 o/s and called off after I shoved over his preflop raise. He hit.

to be continued...

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Death sucks.

Date: Wed, May 14, 2014 Live

Over the weekend a couple of beloved coaches from my alma mater died in a ballooning accident that made national news. I won't link to an article to spare you the details, but the recap was chilling, horrific and tragic. I was busy all weekend but when I finally read about it Sunday morning, it was tough to digest or imagine. Stranded in the air with a balloon that was on fire. Horrific. Kind of rocked me.

Things got worse, or at least, hit even closer to home as more bad news has come out.

My Beau Rivage friends have been sharing their sad thoughts about the passing of Cincere Mason, who was a joy for all to be around. She twice beat cancer, she's a fighter, all seemed good for her. After the floods in Pensacola she went to help a friend, that being the kind of person she was, and she contracted a bacterial infection she couldn't beat, and suddenly was gone so sad.

The worst news of all, for me, as I'm closer to him was the passing of my friend's child. The one that really hurt, heard about the loss of Matt S's daughter over the weekend, it was like a kick to my stomach. I've cried multiple times for him, and I don't cry much. As a father of young children it's so easy to put yourself in their shoes and think how rocked you would be. I feel for him, and also understand I can't even imagine what he's experiencing, my tears for him are one infinitesimal portion of the grief he has. So sad, to lose a child, especially a bright, vibrant, beautiful little girl like Matt had. I know if effected a lot of people near and far, as I got hit with messages as the news spread. Everybody just aches for him.

He's got a long period of grieving ahead of him. Nothing gives him solace or comfort now, and it's just agonizing to know that people are going through the loss of a love one, and there's little you can say or do. I saw that the poker community has been great in helping Matt with the expenses of the funeral, which warmed my cynical heart a little bit. Gene and I are also making a small donation too. We are rooting for Matt. We know it's going to be a tough, long slog.

To all those who have recently lost a loved one, my thoughts and prayers are with you.


I got so much brewing in my head that I need to cover. What I hope to get to, but not today, is quick synopsis of finishing 10th at the latest Main Event at the Beau, also a second place finish there in an earlier event, chopping a couple of nightlies as the chipleader, and participating in the excellent WSOP-Academy that just wrapped up.

Phil Gordon, as well as pros Ben Logan and Bronson Tucker, I thought all did a great job. I'll get to all that I promise. Unfortunately, this post is a sad one. Lots of death to digest recently.

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Weight Loss Bet

Date: Thu, Apr 3, 2014 Live

Just won a weight loss bet I made with my in-laws. In two months I lost just under 29 lbs. No exercise (three little bitty kids and always on the move--don't really have time), so all this just with a change in diet. Essentially, I created it on my own. Though it's very similar to atkins and other low carb diets.

Basically, I ate everything that I've read recently that helps manage weight or might contribute to weight loss (including):
-Dark Chocolate
-Green Tea
-Chia seeds

I found healthy substitutes to foods I love. I allowed myself one or two treats a week (though swore off them in the homestretch of the last two weeks). That means a snow ball here, some pizza there, and occasional cookie. 99% of the time I went low/no carb/almost no sugar. I also have abstained from alcohol entirely.

I have a sweet tooth so that was tough. I also stayed mostly away from sugar substitutes as I've read they can make you crave sugar and drive you to eat more calories (in some ways worse than the real stuff). Thus, my options were limited a lot.

The dark chocolate (got 85%+ cacao--very important to be high in cacao) mixed with nuts, mostly almonds, in the morning would constitute breakfast. (I learned on the paleo (?) diets and some other diets nuts are a no-no but they worked for me). Instead of Frappucinos or chocolaty coffee drinks I make as a morning ritual, I'd take some cold brew coffee, mix it with a 1/4 cup Kefir (like a yogurt drink loaded with Probiotics), a splash of my kids chocolate milk (loaded with Omega3s), and water the rest of the way. I ran out of regular water and used Perrier one morning, and it actually tasted like one of those old Soda Jerk floats. Pretty good. Unexpected. That would leave me satisfied for most of the morning.

Lunch many days would be "meat wraps"--no bread. I'd take lean turkey, put some kale chips in the middle, some cut cucumbers, carrots, lettuce and lots of sirachi. Sometimes roast beef, mustard, and or other vegetables. Other times, I'd eat packaged salmon or tuna. Lots of Sirachi. I would overlook the carbs in foods that are really healthy so I was just some meat-pounding heart attack victim waiting to happen.

I love crunch, so I found some chips called Beanitos, that were fairly low carb. They were bean based (not corn). I'd take two or three chips and break them up and sprinkle them over the salmon or tuna or on salads. Surprised how far a few chips will go in giving you that crunch you crave when broken up. Invented some pretty good meals out of necessity.

My wife, also on a diet, but low calorie not low carb, was super helpful in making dinners that I could streamline to stay on track. She is great about getting healthy foods in our kids, so no big changes in dinner from that perspective.

I've read how a protein rich diet can curb depression. I've always been a pretty upbeat guy, but I have to say that I've been feeling great the last couple of weeks. I get over setbacks a lot easier and am even more positive than I normally am. Helps with poker.

Ahhh, Poker. That game can be difficult to play because casinos apparently want to fatten you up, maybe so it's harder for you to tleave. To survive the long days required by a poker tournament or cash I used to gas up with sugary caffeinated drinks. Now, instead of pounding cokes for the caffeine, like I used to, it's been all unsweet iced teas. Big improvement. Somehow, the caffeine from the tea isn't as bad as from the soda and I can sleep easier at nights.

Going forward, I still want to lose maybe another 8 pounds. My goal was 30 pounds for this two month period so I just missed that. I'll try and hit that by losing a couple more pounds soon, and then maybe get to my next goal but at a less breakneck pace. I want to slowly integrate some carbs (and even some sugar) back into my diet but I'm going to be a lot more conscious of what I eat. I think maybe two treats a week will be fine. My friend says he eats/drinks whatever he wants on the weekend but is regimented in his weekday diet and he's been shedding pounds. So, maybe I'll follow that course of action.

I've got a beer in the fridge I've been waiting to drink and a Mexican Coke (cane sugar baby)
in a glass bottle that is beckoning to me. I got them as rewards for when I finished this back when I started. I look at them every time I open the fridge. Unfortunately, I'll wait another week before cracking either, because after our weigh-in last night I ate spaghetti, garlic bread, and chocolate pie. Think I maxed out on carbs for the week. It was okay to reward myself though.

I've talked to a lot of guys on similar diets. Maybe when you get around this age it's just time to get healthier I don't know. Everybody seems to be on successful diet right now and focused on being healthier. The important thing for me will be staying on track now that the challenge is over, and doing it as personal improvement/maintenance rather than just rising up to win a bet.

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I forgot to Wrap-Up the Mid States Poker Tour...

Date: Thu, Mar 13, 2014 Live

A bridge to nowhere. After my day two ended I went out on the deck the boat to see this. Had I taken the picture just a little sooner it would better as the fog was covering both sides of the bridge. Just the top of a bridge in the sky, clouds above, and fog all around it. Pretty symbolic as day two began with the promise of a bridge in the sky heading somewhere to something. Just the fog of bad hands was too thick to find an on ramp. As I got closer, and closer to the bridge or to "In the Money" and the final table it seemed even further away. I just could not chip up.

The day began and nothing much of note happened. Then I chopped a pot with my nemesis. Why my nemesis?

At the end of day 1 when we were bagging up one of the Mid-States pros, a guy I had sat next to and had a pleasant idle table conversation with, got very angry with me. With two tables left we drew a set amount of hands to play out the night. I caught a break by dodging the big blind with my short stack by exactly one hand.

The other table finished first. It was late, and with one of my friends over there, I was hoping to hurry up and get out using the buddy system for that pretty dark and scary parking lot. We dragged on, and we when were done playing they were almost done bagging. I noticed an employee was coming to our table light a few bags. She started at the other side, and knowing there wouldn't be enough to get down to us, I turned and talked to some guys to my right. I hoped she'd be back for more.

When I turned back there was a bag on the table in front of the Mid-States guy's stack. I looked around and didn't see him. I didn't see him leave but he must have cut out to go the bathroom right after play ended. I didn't consider that he might have taken a bag before he left, I just thought that one was free and nobody on our side of the table had grabbed it when it was passed down.

I took it to bag up my chips. He reappeared vey quickly, very angry and very belligerent. He said "Are you taking MY bag."

I responded "Yes, I took your bag" and was going to make light of it as he seemed agreeable, though my the warning lights were already flickering in my head as I wasn't sure how this was "his" bag if it was just sitting on the table. Regardless, initially I intended on giving it back, even though I was in a hurry, I was pretty sure there would be more bags momentarily, so if I made the mistake... no biggie, right?

Then this dude gets irate and rips it out of my hands. I'm not a fan of bullies, and am pretty stupid in terms of standing up to them. Growing up with a 6'6 brother who I obviously never matched in size I got roughed up a good bit. I should be a lot more afraid of people than I am, but because rarely are they 6'6, and I figured out how to hold my own against my brother, I'm not. I remember once when I was five or six at a day camp and this big kid asked a younger kid if he wanted a knuckle sandwich, I stepped in and said he doesn't but I do. What a "brave" protector. Well, he gave it to me punching me in the jaw and then turned around and ran away like he had a firecracker in his pants. The little kid just looked at me like I was an idiot.

I have also aged, have kids and my default is to back down and swallow my pride. However, this sudden unwarranted elevation by this dude that flipped the switch about his bag, got to me.

We a "conversation" about semantics. He suggested because I referred to it as "Your Bag" I knew it was his, and I therefore was taking it and I was therefore an ahole. I tried to explain I was only repeating his words back to him, but that fell on deaf ears. For the record, I thought he had left before the bags were distributed, and since I didn't see him I thought new bags would be there before he got back. Granted, logic was on his side, since nobody else on my side had taken the bag it probably had been claimed. Anyway, he angrily bagged up, following none of the instructions and took off. He ran away, but I must be getting smarter as he didn't leave me with a bruised face before doing so.

Anyway, we shared the same table on day two and I think both put the bag incident behind us. I asked him about something to test it and he politely responded. I think I was probably in the wrong and should have been swifter to correct the problem. I don't think the escalation was warranted but nothing really happened.

Nonetheless, I still wanted to outlast him (I did) or bust him (somebody else did).

Anyway, I shove with Ace King. He calls with Ace King. I made a remark like normally I hope we chop in spots like this but I'm too short to think that. When the flop hit Allan Kessler quipped, "I bet you hope you chop now" as he had outs to a flush. I fade them and split the meager blinds and antes

The very next hand I got 33, shoved and stole the blinds. The guy in the big blind said, "I wish I hadn't looked I was calling with any two." He showed 4-2. I resisted showing the 3s but also wished he hadn't looked. Then I got moved to three different tables in a matter of minutes. Always behind the blinds, so in some way I was running good.

But I didn't get a hand no matter where I sat. The Baton Rouge fog continued. Pretty sicko, that the streak would carry over from the day before.

Nonetheless, the other players were getting eliminated and peeling out of there like they had a stomach flu. So, despite being card dead I was getting closer and closer to the money. I've come back from near nothing before so I stayed patient. I traded ten per cent with two of my buddies who had decent stacks and were both alive. Wow, if I could get a run of cards this could be a pretty good day for us I thought.

Eventually I think we were down to seven on each of three tables, when I saw my first two face cards since the AK. I had bounced around a bit, so this group didn't have the greatest understanding of my table image. I shoved from EP and it got around to a guy in the small blind who just called. The big blind called too.
I thought it was a little too early for checking it down, 9 or so from the money, and my stack was a little too big compared to theirs to not aggressively seek it out. Therefore I wasn't too worried about both players seeing all five cards. Somebody would either want a side pot or make a play for the money. I flopped top pair. Yum.

The small blind led out. Oh?

The big blind Mihail Karasoulis stewed and then flashed pocket threes. (I've discussed this hand with him since and I thought he should have raised preflop to isolate me and steal the small blinds' weakish contribution to pot. He made a very sound justification for not doing so which I understand--course had he done it I would have tripled up and who knows what would have happened :) ).

The board was I think Qs5s2. The small blind flashed A2 with two spades. Yeah, he hit his flush on the turn. Oh well.

I became a rail bird and apparently made an endorsement for some Beef Jerky on their twitter feed than I enjoyed. It cost $7 it had better be good. I don't like to railbird but with , ten percent of two players with a lot up top, could still be a nice little payday. 21 became ~15. 15 became 14. Then I saw one of my players, GeneD, make a great fold when a guy just getting run over by the deck flopped a straight and Gene conceded the hand folding an ace that matched the ace on the board. Course his preflop and postflop bets were gone and now he was on a short stack. Ugh.

Two or so from the money Gene was eliminated after a valiant battle. As Gene tends to do he was way too hard on himself. Now
my eyes were on Dave Chocoles. He started to get short as the stone cold bubble lasted an improbable three and a half levels. Then he won some hands and got back on solid ground. Then the bubble kept going and he got short again. Finally, there was a bustout.

Dave didn't last too long after that, as the guy who ended up second I thought made a little bit of a loose call, taking out both Dave and Justin Truesdale in the same hand. With three players out of 20 something left, we ended up cashing just about the minimum possible. By the way, Dave played great I thought. Same with Gene. Same with Monkey and a few other guys I got to watch a good bit from the rail.

Sucked hard as I kept waiting to get some sort of traction and was positive my patience and short-stack wizardry was going to be rewarded. It wasn't. Then for Gene and Dave to go out where they did. It was just disappointing. So much promise.

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What You Are Selling Isn't What They Are Seeing...

Date: Fri, Mar 7, 2014 Live

I don't typically post strategy as I feel there are better places for it, but sometimes when I re-learn a concept maybe it's best to post it as instruction even if the audience or student is just me.

I've played a couple of hands recently that reinforced a core concept that I think is vital to beating lower buy-in tournaments and cash games with bad players. Why I let it be a leak to me of late I'm not sure.

One thing, I think I've repeated on this blog over the years, is the enjoyment I get from watching good players bitch about bad players. To me, if it's always your fault and never the other guys fault when they misstep. You should know they are capable of anything and everything.

Granted there are times when an individual has a self conflagration that is so bizarre you are entitled to bitch about it. Most of the times, though when you walk away from the table because of their misguided attempt to self-destruct you should probably find some solace in their folly. Obviously, time and place shape your reactions (in the money on or on the bubble can be especially painful) but most of the time once you have played a great deal underestimating your opponents ability or conversely their inability is most times your own fault.

To that end, we should be aware when are telling a story in a hand if they are capable of reading it. Here's a hand that describes that concept.

I open Kc9c. I get called by a lady who is a bit of station preflop but to her credit she can be really aggressive post-flop. Flop comes 10c8c5x (might have been 7x but not TOO relevant). Maybe I should have cbet my draw but I decide to check. She bets and I call (I considered raising).

Turn is an Ace. She lets me see the river for free (and I decide to not bluff the big card) and it's a Queen. My clubs didn't hit but I think the turn and river improved my position.

I decide to steal the pot and fire a value bet bluff but given stack sizes is not going to be an easy call.

She says she thinks I had a club draw. I like that as though I missed my clubs, but I would have hit a hand with almost every club draw (except for the one I have). The story I thought my bet was telling was that I missed clubs... but I got there. That was my intention and she seemed to have got it.

Then she calls and sees my hand and giggles and says, "I knew you missed your club draw."

Now, maybe she had a read or she said one thing but didn't mean it. I sometimes give a different rationale for calling then the real reason I called. I did this once in front of Kathy Liebert and she mocked my "stated" rationale, I told her on the side, that just because I said one rationale didn't mean it was THE rationale I used. She disparaged that line of thought a little too or maybe she thought I was trying to save face.

If Kathy really didn't see the value of that strategy, that surprises me as it seems a natural tactic of misinformation on a table full of strangers. If you sit with me and I give an idiotic explanation for calling with Ace high... there was probably more to it, especially if none of the faces are familiar. Against strangers I'm quite happy to give misinformation in an effort to collect information. I think all players should employ this but I cant tell you how many times people genuinely discuss strategy with one another within minutes of sitting down with one another.

Against this player, perhaps she was doing the same, so maybe I shouldn't use this hand as a teaching lesson to me, but to be fair her giddy reaction afterward seemed too genuine when she showed pocket sixes.

So, point being just because you can read the board and tell a story, doesn't mean your opponent can. I should have understood she can be a little bit of a call station and that she might not be able to read board texture that suggested she shouldn't call.

If anybody doesn't get what I'm saying... Let's look at all the club draws, I could have: Suited Aces. Yep. They beat her. Some suited Kings. KJ makes a straight. KQ made a pair. Suited Qs made pairs. J9? That made a straight. Jack 10 made a pair. Depending on whether or not that last card on the flop was a 5 or 7 means some other suited cards could have made straights too. Granted she has blockers with 66, but if she indeed put me on a club draw pretty much K9 is the only hand she can beat. I'm not opening K6, K5, K4, or J8 or lower. So the odds are such that may be precisely one missed club draw she beat--the hand I held.

Now, I still think betting there is right for other reasons, but there is something to be learned. What you see is not what everybody else sees. Empathy is vital in playing against opponents of all skill levels not just from an emotional perspective but also from understanding their concept of logic. Some players have a tendency to only ask themselves "what would I have in their spot." She'd bluff a missed draw. She'd also open a much wider range of hands.

So while, my perception of hands I could have is rather limited on the flush draw, she might have a range of any two clubs and therefore if she was playing against herself calling beats a lot more hands then calling me. It's hard to figure out people's defaults. Does she default to her own ranges of hands or is she tracking my ranges of hands based on what I've shown down. It's also possible she didn't even consider the fact all the club draws got there. Maybe she made an early read and didn't dig too deep into the hand as the board shifted.

One other non poker item. That has a bit of a parallel... Was in Target the other day, and saw a decent prize on razor blades (yeah, they must be made out of gold these days) at a corner display. So I pulled the trigger on a four pack for my Gillete Octo blade or whatever it is I own that shaves my face far better than I need it to. Then I saw them on their own aisle and went to see if maybe I'd get a better deal on an 8 pack or more. I didn't bit but I did notice they had the same pack of blades I was buying with a higher price tag. Hmmm.

I take out my phone and take a picture of the price where I picked up the blades originally. I get to the register and surprise, surprise, the price I though I was buying at wasn't what matched the receipt. The funny thing is, it was higher than the other price too. I showed her the pic and she paid out the difference. In life as in poker, what you think you are selling (or buying) isn't necessarily what's actually being transacted.

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Long, Long, Day at the MSPT:

Date: Sat, Feb 22, 2014 Live

Showed up for the 1030 am satellite for the MSPT at the Belle of Baton Rouge. I had previously won a $60 satty to qualify for a $250 with a seat in the Main Event on the line. I played so much poker yesterday (all the way to 1:30 am today) that I can't remember much of that tournament early. I know some good players were at my table and I was looking enviously at the other table, but I had position on a couple including Danny Doucet. I busted him when he flopped top pair and I had Aces.

When we got to the final table I arrived as the chipleader. I got some good hands and saw my advantage disappear as we limped toward the four seats they were giving out. Next thing I knew two or three stacks had swollen up. One player had no idea he was in a satellite and played like he needed every chip. Short stacks kept doubling and after hours of play I became a shorty. Twice I got Aces to get critical double ups including once when on the stone cold bubble. Ran good with Aces in this event.

One player kept gifting a short stack chips (raise fold or limp fold), when he was supposed to call anything and after a long time of play we were all even in chips. By this point we were under an hour away from the Main Event start time of 5:00 pm. I was pretty tired of it. I felt if we were at a final table, I was quite comfortable. But we were in a mega and it was now basically shove or fold for most of us. Gene D had been the stone cold bubble the day before and they round down so he ended up with nothing.

It was going to come down to a cooler type hand to decide things, so I suggested we each pony up $100 for the bubble so at least everybody made some money. After agreeing one player said he'd take $900 (each pay $225) and we'd get the seats. Since it cost me nothing (well $60) to play the $250 I wasn't that opposed to it, but I had visions of winning the Main Event off of that $60 satellite--would be fun to do.

Anyway, the other four quickly agreed. I hemmed and hawed and the dude offered it for $200 a piece. I didn't really like it that much because I did feel I had an edge and it was only a 1/5 shot that I would be the unlucky bubble boy. Still he was going to get $300 less than the rest of us and I needed some sort of break before beginning the Main so settled for the deal.

They got 54 in Day 1A and I got to say the MSPT ran a first class tournament. The Belle's staff was little new to a multi-table tournament of that size but were in good spirits and taking advice/criticism well. There was some grumbling about their competence but I think it was just inexperience. They did up the third floor well, and if not for the way too loud slot machines, you almost forgot you were on a boat casino.

Lots of players showed up and I think I landed on the toughest starting table. I chipped up a little bit with most of my cbets getting through. In fact, so many were not getting contested by the better players that I f'd myself a bit. The eventual chipleader Austin "The Kid" Bursavich raised, as he did every third hand, and I spied Kings. I decided I would call instead of tipping my hand and let him walk me through the pot.

Flop came A99. To be honest I was almost more worried about a 9 in his hand then an ace. We went check, check. He fired the turn which was another Ace. I thought about raising, but didn't want to bloat the pot. I felt I had the best hand, but if wrong I'd just be building it for him. Also, I didn't want him to click back and make me make tough decisions on the turn/river. River was a 5 ball.

Previously, we played a hand where he bet called all three streets on a king high board. Then the five hit that time as well and he made a bet with a bit of a flourish. I called and he had rivered two pair with K5 to win the pot. When the 5 hit in this second pot he did the same thing, this little confident flourish.

I had planned to call most cards, and knew I might need to evaluate if it came a QJ or 10 (possibly because he might have rivered a better two pair than the board but below my kings so maybe some value in raising where he'd likely just call). That would also put a straight possibility out there so I would be careful about those cards, but generally I was calling the turn to call most rivers. Except he did the same flourish.


I stewed for a while. I felt still he didn't have an A or 9. Could he have 55? Ugh. That would suck. Would he fold 55 to a raise? Yeah, in his mind I easily have an A there. Maybe he had an Ace all along and my read was off. Would he value bet 55? Thought that hand had too much showdown value to risk getting blown off the pot . So no? Only hands he could value bet 55 into were KK, QQ, or JJ that might get a call. Though my hand might be transparent to him.

I didn't know what to do but decided my plan was to call most rivers I needed to stick with it and called. 55.

That would be the first of five times he cracked Kings on the tournament. No wonder he's an overwhelming chip leader.

Big pairs which saved me in the satellite went south on me in the Main, but I got away from them pretty good. Maybe could have played the hand more aggressively against Austin but I got two outed and most of the time I think I'm getting good value there. Later against the tightest player at the table I threebet and cbet the flop, for him to shove all in on me. He had flopped a set of fives. Then against the same guy, when short I limped Aces hoping somebody picked up something behind me. They didn't. He completed from the small. Big blind checked. Flop came 984. tight player opened. Big Blind called. I raised. Tight player overshoved again. Big Blinded folded an open ender.

I showed my Aces to Mihail who was next to me and mucked, tight player showed top two and I think would have called a pf raise so I got a little lucky.

Okay, life as the short stack. I hovered around and under ten big blinds. Finally, I got called by Austin when I had 4k with blinds at 300-600. The hand made PokerNews. It was about the only thing notable about my day after the suckouts and coolers. Short stacks don't garner much attention.

Then unexpectantly, I went on a little rush, don't remember the hands though and got up to just under 30k when this hand happened.

Ben Thomas opened under the gun to 1200. I looked at QQ. Thomas didn't open many hands and was pretty solid yesterday in position so I knew he had something. I was willing to go with QQ though, especially after exchanging some messages with Jeremy Gaubert about when to press in that structure and the need to chip up. As I considered my option, I noticed Austin's brother who had just been sat to my left get his ~7k in chips his hand and felt he was ready to ship. I immediately decided I'd call, he'd ship, and if Thomas tried to isolate with a shove I was calling. If Thomas tried to reraise I was shoving--which I was hoping would happen.

First part went all right because Austin's brother shoved. Then things got funny. Justin Truesdale, who was won a circuit main event, pushed all in for 17k on the button. I don't think he's ever light here even though you could make an argument it's a good steal spot. Michael Horchoff does it that's different. Thomas who had me covered went into the tank. If he had insta called/shoved I might have folded. When he finally tanked, it look authentic, not a hollywood job to induce me, I thought I might have to get it in fourways.

Eventually he folded but before he did Truesdale gave me a little more information about his hand. He starting talking to Thomas and I was confident he wasn't sitting on AA or KK. His hand was vulnerable. That meant Ak. The short stack likely also had an ace and maybe Thomas did too. I felt it was a great spot for Queens and called. I was right A10 for the shorty and Ak for Truesdale. Flop was clean. Turn harmless and then Ace ball on the river. Ugh... good bye five minutes of safety... back to the grind.

And grind, I did. For hours and multiple levels I survived always threatened to bust by only being able to shove. A couple of times going to showdown but most times just pulling in the blinds and a limp or the blinds and a raise. Fortunately, I got some good hand to shove with but never got callers. Means I'm still alive but never could chip up.

One hand of importance came right after an uncalled shove. The break started just after the hand was dealt. Normally, I try to steal here as everybody decides to just go to the bathroom instead of getting involved in a hand, but whenever I try that I always get crushed on those hands. So I stopped "break-stealing" and have cursed whatever book I read that in as a good strategy, as it just hasn't worked out for me. When I saw AA, knowing some are aware of the stealing before the break, I had just enough chips to put in a small raise but could also limp. I opted for the shove thinking they would put me on a steal, especially the new players to the table who hadn't seen my other shoves get through and were watching me shove two out of three hands.

Nope. None of that thought. People mucked and ran off the table. Oh, so that's what a "Break Steal" is supposed to look like.

I survived until the end of the night and bagged up a paltry amount. Which I hate because I won't have time on Sunday to condition my table that I'm shoving a narrow range and invariably run the risk of getting called early and making that trip to Baton Rouge for nothing. I will need to shove fairly early in the day. Still, on the bright side of things, I have chips and many young guns came with big stacks to my table and busted while I just nursed my short stack hoping/waiting for a run. A double up or two early on Sunday and I'm back into the thick of things.

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Date: Fri, Feb 21, 2014 Live


I just read your pitch for the low juice at the $1k tourney in Baton Rouge. I’ll take your word on the 11% juice for this particular tournament and that sounds good on the surface. However, I’m a bit confused as follows:
1. You only mentioned the $1k tourney. The series actually consists of quite a few other tourneys, none of which actually pay cash winnings, only entry to the next level of play. What is the juice on them?
3. The vast majority of the entrants into the $1k main event will probably have “won” their way into the tourney by way of the “qualifiers”.
4. MidStates will be taking juice from the qualifying rounds too, right? (11%??)
5. A lot of the people in the “qualifiers” will probably have “won” their way into the “qualifier” tourney through satellites.
6. MidStates will be taking juice from the satellite rounds too, right? (11%??)
7. As a result of the above statements, it looks like the vast majority of the people playing in the “main event” will have actually already paid juice at least once and probably twice. Their entry into the main event will constitute a third round of juice.
8. Therefore, the total average juice collected from the entrants to the main event will probably be more on the order of 25% and could be (theoretically, if all entrants qualified through satellites and then qualifier) as much as 33%?
If I’m right above then you either have missed my simple mathematical line of reasoning or you’re intentionally misleading your readers. I have doubts that you misinterpreted the math and certainly don’t want to believe you’d mislead your readers.
Please tell me I’m missing something and explain to me what I’m missing.

Those are good points. I meant juice on the main. While many will win their way up, and I will note that on the next update, I've never talked about the juice of any tournament with regard to single table or multi table satellites. If I erred and suggested everything was 11% juice then that definitely was an error and I will clarify. If i didn't, I think I'm being consistent. Say I talk about a $365 and only 291 goes to the prize pool, I wouldn't mention that somebody might have won their way in via a single table and been juiced there too. Either way I will bring up what you said and I hope I'm not misleading anybody. Thanks for the heads up.


You were technically correct in stating that the juice is 11% on the main but that’s only true if you enter the main directly. I think the big difference in the series in question is that the main seems to be the only tournament they’re actually paying out in cash. Every other tournament in the series is only a stepping stone into the main. My point is that they aren’t actually holding a tournament for only 11% juice if most of the participants have actually paid juice up to three times.
It sounds to me that if you enter the main directly you’re getting a really good deal but if you enter a satellite to get into a qualifier to get into the main juice has been taken three times. Consequently they are actually collecting as much as 33% juice on a lot of the participants (won their way into the main via satellite then qualifier), 22% juice on a lot of others (won their way into the main by directly entering a qualifier), and only 11% juice on the few who enter the main directly. It’s impossible to do the math unless you know the path taken by every participant but they are probably collecting 25% to 30% juice overall on the entrant pool for the main.

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Belle of Baton Rouge/Mid States Poker Tour

Date: Sun, Feb 2, 2014 Live

I went to the Belle for the first time to check out their poker room and play one of the satellites for the Mid States Poker Tour. When I arrived they had one seat open. 45 players (including rebuys) meant there would be 9 seats (20% of the field).

The play, ummm, was suspect at best. People calling off with marginal hands and huge stacks. Short stacks calling every raise to see flops. I felt if I didn't get unlucky I'd be alright. I took a couple of beats and got short right before the first break. I decided I'd rebuy if necessary, so it was time to double up (or double up by rebuying) and called with J10 in late position. Flopped open ended in a multi-way pot (they were all multi-way pots) and made broadway on the turn with a Ace. We got it in. The very next hand one off the button I limped with suited connectors. A call station raised from the button and then an older fellow in the big blind who called everything stewed and called. I was ready to proceed very cautiously. I flopped a flush. Checked to me. I led out. The button shove and so did the blind. I called, but not too happily based on the action (different players different format I might consider a fold). Surprisingly, based on they action they held AA and KK (King of hearts). Both had a story to tell as they got snapped by 56. Lol.

So, I went from 6k to 40k in two hands. When I made the final table on the stone bubble 40k was plenty of chips to have. In fact, I actually had less than that. I took a couple of gross beats along the way including a guy who shoved with a flush draw and a gut shot. I had a bigger flush draw and top pair w/ AK (flopped an Ace). He hit his gutterball. It happens. I remember this only because a few rounds later when somebody sucked out on him he was trolling the player and bemoaning his luck. Short memory I guess, especially considering he called a raise with J4 suited or some such nonsense.

Deep, the play didn't improve. I watched guys with huge stacks mixing it up when they could have folded to a seat, people overplaying Aces, short stacks with like 8bbs calling every raise and hitting one out of four hands to stay alive. A good player with a bunch of chips, not paying attention, folded to a shove of 11k, when he was in the big blind with 8k. He thought it was 11k more instead of 3k. I made a point after that anytime a shortie shoved and action got to me, of asking how much the shove was for and asking how much the big blinds were from there on out before looking at my cards to keep people thinking. One time a lady limped and a guy barely doubled the big blind on his shove.

Somehow the big blind folded (with a ton of chips) but the limper called and won.

They played a cash game afterward where the capped the rate for an abusrdly small amount and promise to do the same during the Mid-States Poker Tour. I will be back, and be back often to play the $250s. I believe there is only a ~10% juice on the Main Event. We all bitch about the juice but now there is finally a tournament with a reasonable juice in our backyard and I'm not sure there will be a huge turnout.

Even if it's a hassle to play, we should go en masse and in force to show all the tour operators how well we'd support a reduction in rake, no matter the locale. So if you get some annoying facebook message from me do your part and show up. 10% juice.

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Long Time Gone--BCS lookback

Date: Wed, Jan 22, 2014 Live

Keep meaning to blog and even started one or two, but never got the chance to finish on all sorts of topics, so rather than one long here are a series of short ones.

Auburn-FSU (yeah it's been a while):

Great game. Hated the result though.

Seemed like variance finally caught up to the Tigers. I think if they hit that fg in the first half they win. At the time, I knew it was critical, just as I knew FSU were likely to fake punt as they absolutely had to get something before the half. Lots of reverse parallels to games Auburn played in recent history. Take this year's Iron Bowl, all Bama had to do to win was hit one more field goal (probably) and they win. The same is likely true for Auburn when they missed early in the National Championship. Should have been one last nail to FSU's chances.

The late first half touchdown reminded me of another late touchdown before the half (rewind to Auburn's national championship season with Cam Newton) in the epic comeback in the Iron Bowl. While Brent Musberger was crowning the Tigers the game in the first half, I kept thinking it's not enough... yet. That Iron Bowl stood out in my head. So I kept feeling these moments where things that went exactly Auburn's way once were now setting up to go opposite (if only poker worked that way... lol).

The kick off return, a back breaking special teams play, also had multiple parallels to other games. Credit to Auburn as they regrouped and marched the ball down the field. This time though, they gave the other team too much time. I think you can make a case that Auburn (Tre Mason) should have stopped at the one and burned more time then taken four shots to win it. Risky, yes, but Auburn gets that one yard. The biggest risk in that situation was getting penalized and moving the ball back, but I take my chances needing one yard at that point in the game and basically creating a scenario where only a miracle would win it for FSU.

Speaking of miracles, Auburn had another miracle up their sleeve, and after an incredible play set up just didn't execute as they did in every other close game. The way that played unfolded at the very end it was kind of amazing.

Both my parents went to Auburn so I've been a lifelong fan, so when Mason got stuffed it stung.

Feel like on the last play, if Mason had tried to beat that one FSU player on the outside, maybe just barrel him over, instead of cutting it in... there might have been another miracle. There was a line of blockers and the sideline was open. (This guy disagrees with me, but the evidence he uses only reinforces my belief had Mason taken on and beaten Joyner, he would have been in a slow moving convoy--we'll never know though)> After the game when Mason was blaming himself for not getting it done (yeah, he had an MVP type performance) but I felt he was more focused on that one decision than his performance in general.

Great season though. So much fun to watch and live through. Taking Auburn to win it all after the Georgia game with great odds and then settling up before the National Championship made it a little sweeter.

One last note, strategy and momentum wise I thought there were some real layers and nuances to the game maybe unnoticed by the Media. Malzahn believed in bulldozing his opponent with the run this year and the fourth quarter he smashes them over as the defenses can't handle the unrelenting attack. At half-time he predicted it would be true again. However, I don't think he took into consideration, that the first half was atypical for Auburn. Far more passing and less in the trenches.

The change of style got them their big lead and had FSU on their heels but they weren't wearing down the defense as usual. I don't think FSU was beaten from a fatigue stand point, as most defenses have been by Auburn, until Auburn's very last touchdown drive (made obvious by FSU's stud dying on the sideline and too gassed to go back into the National Championship game).

Rather than be able to bulldoze them through the part of the third quarter and entire fourth quarter, Auburn struggled to find the easy points that wear-them-down offense normally manufactures in second halves. Obviously, I'd never suggest not taking what the defense gives you, nor advocate forsaking scoring opportunities, and I'm not being critical of Gus for doing either, but I do think the failure to move the ball most of the second half as they usually did, had a lot to do with success in the first.

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Package Update Again

Date: Mon, Dec 30, 2013 Live

Email I sent for those that bought a piece of me:

Fired several bullets to win our way into the Main Event on my own dime through Megas. Those did not go well. Several times I was a couple of spots away from the seat. I also tried to arrange to buy a seat from a cash player that had won it to save us a little money in the package. He asked for 1k and I hoped to get him down by negotiating. Unfortunately, we missed each other (he no showed the first meeting) and when we finally did meet up I had to leave in the middle of one of my megas and rush over to the cash room.
(One of the floor people had been trying to help me out with this and called me when the player got there).

I told him let's discuss the seat. He said sorry. Despite committing to the floor person who set things up for me now he had changed his mind. Now, he had been able to get off work for Saturday and was going to play. (**I saw him bust and rebuy on his own dime on Saturday--looks like he lost my 1k and 1125 of his own money).

Nonetheless we'd go in full price on the Main Event. However as mentioned last time, in the package details I listed it around $1600. It was actually $1125. Thus we've freed up money for at least two more tournaments. One of those tournaments I already played and I took third in, unfortunately, it was not a huge score but I'll get to that.

So, predictably the only events worth playing at the Harrahs tournament were the rebuy and the Main Event. Turnout has been atrocious. The rebuy we finished 36th in. I also jumped into a nightly earlier in the week only to discover barely anyone was playing. We chopped that which made a tiny payout to the guys with the Half shares. The Main Event didn't go so well.

I liked my table. I also liked my image and despite losing an early pot I had been able to chip up over starting stack and things were going well. I had three or four other players who seemed like they'd supply the rest of us helpings of their chips.

Mike Horchoff (congrats to him just won his first tournament the event before hand)was in late position when I'd be in the blinds. He's an active aggressive player who can put his stack in on a cold bluff. Blake B also joined the table, who like Mike is a very talented player and can put you to difficult decisions with nothing. Mike recently made a WPT final table and Blake has three rings I think. Other than them and the talented Danny Doucet (another experienced winning player) I liked my table.I figured for now, we'd be fighting over the other players chips.

Nonetheless Mike and I did mix things up. I opened with 87spades in early position. Couple of callers and he called in late position. I flopped second pair on a 9 high board with a straight draw and didn't cbet. I liked my hand but wanted to see what everybody else did. Checked to Mike who bet. I called and decided I'd check raise him on the turn, after the others folded behind me, to test him. Turn was a low brick. I checked. He checked (okay, he didn't have much). River was a Jack. I figured I'd check call a possible bluff out of Mike. Thought if I led, he'd just fold anything but something that would beat me, and didn't want to give him the option to raise my third pair. Feel I'm good there most of the time.

Unfortunately, I checked and he overbet the pot. I didn't like it. It screamed Jack or nothing. In his eyes my hand is fairly transparent. I flopped either top pair (9s) or second pair and maybe didn't like my kicker, so I checked called the flop. His big bet if he hit the Jack is made knowing I might call. Thus, I considered folding (I know that he knows that I know...). However, as I've said before I know he's capable of firing and even shoving with air... which makes his bet even more effective. I considered a raise but his bet size was going to get me to commit too much of my stack. If he had a bare jack he might fold, but then again with the pot bloated he might not or worse he might raise. Ultimately I followed my plan and called, he had QJ and rivered me.

After taking that hit and bouncing back, I was really comfortable on the table, but then made a mistake. At this point, I should have recognized my table was still giving chips away without too much conflict and there was no need to stir things up or make too many moves. Not yet anyway.

Nonetheless, I decided when I'd be under the gun, with Mike on the button, I'd go into my Main Event bag of tricks. There is a move I like to do which is a fairly safe way to accumulate some chips and I'll usually do it once at every new table I'm at... if the dynamics work. I limp under the gun usually with a rag hand I'd fold 100% of the time. Get some limpers and then let the aggressive player try in late position and steal all that free money. Action to me, I reraise.

Usually, it's an insta-fold because every time I've seen somebody else do this move it's always aces (popular play is to limp raise them under the gun). Thus, I also only do this move against good players that recognize it, Mike fits the bill for that. Even better, my image is perfect for it as I'm a "tight" middle aged player--just the kind of guy that does this. Granted there are times the loose player will pick up a hand but he'll either fire back at me pre-flop or just call. Unless I smack the flop I'm just willing to fold that hand away. That's the point of doing it with a garbage hand like 72. Suddenly, you are getting value from that hand, and if the other guy wakes up with a hand you can get rid of it real easily. As the 2+2 crowd would put it, I kind of polarize my range here, so since this has seen print, I guess I'll have to sprinkle in some other holdings too.

So I decided to pick up some free money and knew I was limping any two under the gun. I spied A6 suited, which, to me is a fine hand to limp with anyway. Say the loose player doesn't take the bait. I don't like playing out of position, but there I'm looking to hit a flush or a couple of sixes. I'm also not going nuts if I hit an ace. Predictably I get a couple of limpers behind me. I see Mike think and fire out a bet from the button. Everything is going great.

I reraise and I don't think he likes it. I suspect he's giving me credit for the type of hands I'm representing AA or KK. So far so good. Then it blows up on me. The guy right behind me is short stacked and decides to shove for slightly less than my bet. Didn't see that coming. I decided not that big a deal, if he just limped initially, I'm not too worried about it because my Ace is probably leading most of the time there. I don't like that I have to show I limped raised with Ace rag but whatever. I might get more action from the other players at the table after this showdown, and I won't even be risking the total of the raise that I was willing to lose. So not terrible.

Then it gets back to Mike. He doesn't like it but asks how much the short stack shoved for and it's almost the size of my bet. I realize he's priced in to call with a lot of hands. I don't like that. I think I started the hand with 17 or 18k. Mike made it a little over 1k and I fired out ~3.5k for the resteal. Short stack had less than 3k.

He calls. Flop comes J high two spades. That's a great flop for me. Hard to put Mike on a Jack, I've got an over and the nut spade draw. I also have a line that indicates I have an over pair to that board. There are very few hands Mike can call with. I bet 6k of my remaining stack basically indicating I'm committed to the hand expecting to take it down. I can tellMike doesn't love it but puts his stack in. Gross. I never like to put all my chips at risk on a draw. Hate it. I also try to play these Main Events with as little variance plays as possible. Basically, I'm trying to minimize the spots where I let chance decide my fate.

Here I've blown things up. There is over 9k in the pot before I put my 6k in. Then Mike shoves and I have roughly 8k behind. So now the pot is almost 30k. Call 8k to win 30k. I'm almost getting four to one on my money here and it's likely at a minimum I can win with any spade. It's also possible any ace wins it. Let's say Mike has QQ I win almost 50% of the time. Let's say he flopped top set, I still win 27% of the time. I'm priced in even against his best holdings. Plus, should I win I'd have a great stack for my style of play going forward.

Then there are weird hands like a straight draw (can't remember if there was one) or second nut flush draw that I'm already beating and my equity is even better. Unfortunately, because things got weird, I'm can't fold. I knew that when I saw the flop and made my bet so I called pretty quickly.

One of the hands I didn't want to see was what Mike turned over KJ of spades. Here I win only 40% of the time. I didn't improve and I busted the Main on a draw.

The funny thing is from Mike's perspective he's probably shoving thinking he's behind but has too much equity to fold. He believes his flush draw is live and possibly can hit another jack or king to win too. If I have Aces or most overpairs with a spade he's only a small dog. If I have the overpair with no spade it's 50/50. There is way too much "extra" money in the pot for him to fold his hand regardless. He's trapped and I'm trapped. If I have Queens he's a favorite. The flop was a real cooler for either of us.

Btw, the short stack who blew up my plan to take an extra 1500 or so of free money had 87 suited. And thought he had good equity against a couple of overpairs like Mike and I could have had. I prefer a fold there if I were him but it's not necessarily the wrong move. However, it ended up costing my tournament so I was a little bitter.

Sidenote: I jumped into a cash game to wait for the 5 pm event to start. That same player was there and took a big pot off of me when we both flopped sets. I liked him even less.

I played the 5 pm and steamrolled it. Got a lot of cards and it was smooth sailing. Again with a stack I cruised over people. Literally had 40% of the chips in play at the final table. Paid three. When we got three handed I had 70% of the chips. I would have asked for almost first place money with a chop, but the other two stacks were so uneven. A girl player had almost no chips and the dude at the table had the other 25% or so. He kept making eyes at her stack and I knew he'd be fine with an equity chop after we busted her.

She was like MRSA and wouldn't go away. She'd get short and double. Finally, after a while, I felt the momentum turn on her and knew she was about to get it in bad. Just that sense you have. Then the other guy who had chipped away at my stack a little bit (out kicking me when we'd flop top pair and other brutality) started asking if we could take a break so he could he piss.

I didn't want to give the girl a break. I said no, because I felt things were going to be over soon. It was 70 minutes until the next break. At the same time he was a super nice guy and I didn't want to be a dick and make him run to the bathroom. Also, if he did do that with his blinds unprotected I didn't necessarily want the girl to open up things and me feel forced to call. I pressed to continue playing.

Then a couple of hands later I caved in. I regret it.

We stopped and did a bathroom break.

Predictably the woman had regrouped and the dude seemed completely reenergized too. Hmmm... wonder what he did in the bathroom. Bastard.

She went back to being patient but then maybe got too patient and slipped to four big blinds. I min-raised an Ace from the button. She called (half her stack in) from the small blind. The dude in the big blind (folded? WTF). Flop came 955. She shoved and I called as I would have any flop. She had a pair of nines. He folded... 95. At that point it would have been over. And I would have taken about 2200 (first place paid 2600) second 1500 and third 1k. Or maybe we would have set some aside and played for the rest with me as a heavy chip favorite.

But... he folded.

It was like the break turned everything upside down. Then I proceeded to get Aces three times. You can guess how that went though I never doubled anybody fully except for the girl who got it in bad with King high against my ace preflop. I also kept hitting second best on the flop and within two levels became the short stack. He was big she was second in chips. I looked at KK in the big blind. He limped from the small. I shoved and he called with Ace rag. He hit an ace. They quickly did an equity chop before I even got to the payout table and I felt like at least 1200 or so had slipped through my fingers.

I went to the cash table and joined in a game with the dude from Game of Thrones who plays Jaime Lannister. Almost didn't recognize him at first because he had both his hands. Have to watch the show to get that one. It was hard to spot him for real because his hair was over his face and he wore reading glasses. I've seen him on Jimmy Kimmel and knew he was Danish so his accent gave him away a bit.

Like his character, he had a ton of money in front of him, and I quickly got a seat change to be on his left. He tilted hard as he made a transparent bluff that got picked off by a cash game regular and was giving some of it away. I had a ton of Game of Thrones references and jokes run through my head but didn't bore him with that. Instead we started talking and I was encouraging him. He turned things around. I wanted him to have chips, because selfishly from a player's perspective I had an edge on him and position. That being said, he was a nice guy so I was kind of rooting for him as well.

I never broached the subject of who he was. I feel a lot of times the actors and athletes that play at Harrahs frequently when in town, feel comfortable in the cash games, because nobody harasses them. They are just another player with money--usually a lot of it. Think it's kind of an unwritten rule for the regs to never go fanboy. So, I didn't blow his cover, but I do think the kid on his right quietly told him he knew who he was and was a big fan. He seemed genuinely appreciative but remained low key.

Cash wasn't going well for me, and I've made the mistake of waiting for hands against a table of bad players that never came before so it was about time to go. Despite the game being Juicy, I was about to pick up until a guy I know who won a bracelet last summer at the WSOP sat down.

He's super nice and always makes me laugh so I played a little longer, just to shoot the shit. Glad I did because suddenly I found some hands, I won with Kings three times and Queens once. Needless to say I chipped up and this time the actor was encouraging me. We had lost together and now we were both winning together.

Anyway, it was late and I had to get home so. I was tired and not willing to put my new found winnings at risk, so finally I said my goodbyes. My phone had died but a friend volunteered to covertly take a picture of the actor for me on another friend's phone. My wife is a big fan, we both love Game of Thrones, so I wanted to show her why I was later than normal. You know how I like to be low profile with celebrities? Well, the dude peered up at the person taking the photo and then saw me looking at the phone afterwards.

So much for that.

Anyway, as far as the package goes we have at least two bullets to fire at the 500k guarantee Jan 3rd. and a 340 tournament to play. Obviously, if we advance to day two in the big one, we'll play something else later in the week as an alternative for the second bullet.

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