Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Good Start To The New Year

It's been quite some time since I've posted. I'm sure like me, the holiday season is a hectic time for all of you as well. As such, while I did get some play in I didn't get the opportunity to post. We spent Christmas Eve and night at Paris LV in a comped room which was nice and I picked up some Tiffany pearls for Rebecca for Christmas which I think made her happy. After New Year's Rebecca had a friend in town who just left a couple days ago. Now that this period is over it's time to get serious about my game and start treating this like the livelihood it is for me. My master's is done (though still waiting on my grade on my final project and the word from my advisor that I am eligible to walk in May,) so I now have a clear conscience to go out and make my living on the felts of LV. Had a nice start to the new year yesterday with a solid win. I made a good score early in the session and had that urge to get up with almost a day's take (for me a day's take is $200 as hypothetically that would amount to a $50,000 a year salary.) However, I am doing my best to fight that impulse and just play hours instead of tracking wins and losses throughout a session. I was kicking myself a couple hours later when I gave back my of my winnings. However, I am glad I did sit tight and just play as table dynamics change rather quickly at MGM. I ended up dragging two nice pots before I called it a day and took home $238 for my troubles. In order to get past the idea that I am up or down a certain amount, I decided to make two large stacks of checks and just continue to add to them as I picked up pots. This way, I had no idea how much I was up and could just focus on the game and on making the best plays available to me given the situation.

One unique situation came up that I want to throw out there for thought and any discussion or feedback it may generate. UTG I picked up wired 7s and limped as I like to do with any pocket pair from any position. Multiple callers around to the BB who is a loose/aggro type kid who pumps it to $12. I look at his stack and also factor in that if I call I will entice others to come along and decide to make the caller. Two others call and the pot now has about $50 in it. The flop comes down 6-5-3 with two hearts. The BB bets out $15. I am next to act and with position I decide I want to play him heads up as I think I can out play him if any heart comes, if any non picture comes, or of course if I hit my gutter. I decide to reraise and make it $40 to go ($25 on top of his $15.) The middle position caller folds and a loose/aggro Asian guy in late position moves all in which amounted to $14 on top of my raise. The original raiser folds and I am forced to call getting about 10.5 - 1. I table my over pair and gutshot and he shows a 3-4 offsuit for a pair and straight draw. Two bricks later and I pick up the $170 pot with just a pair of 7s. Funny how things work out some time. I'm just happy that he didn't have more behind. Not sure how he would have played if he did since I was fairly deep as well.

Anyway, it's good to be back after some rest and relaxation over the holidays. These next couple months I am looking to grind hard and really build my bankroll up. I'd like to make the progression to $1/$3 NLHE and move either over to Aria, Caesar's, or the Wynn where the games play a bit bigger. Or, move up to a $1/$2 room like Venetian that has a $300 max buy and a $100 min. The stacks can be short at MGM but I truly believe the relatively poor play overall makes that a bit of a wash. As I play more and more and obtain additional valuable experience I think I'll better be able to comment on that.

All the best to everyone out there for a happy, healthy, and successful new year. Live right, tell your mom you love her, help old ladies across the street, hold doors for people behind you when entering a building, merge in traffic properly, and all that jazz and I pray we all reap what we have sewn.

Oh, and my advice for the coming year and beyond. Invest in gold and other precious metals.

Hours Played From 12/9/09 through 1/6/10: 37.07
Take: $677
Hourly Rate During Period: $18.26

Month to Date For December: $1,074
Take For 2009: $2,479
Hourly Rate Year Life Time (Includes Some Limit Hold'em Play:) $14.11
Hourly Rate Life Time NLHE: $18.84
Total Hours Played 2009: 176.63
Total Hours Played Life Time: 181.25
Sessions Played: 47
Win/Loss Record by Session: 29/14 67.44.% win rate

*Note: The total sessions played and the win/loss totals do not add up to each other. The figures are taken from Stat King and most likely the program disregards small wins and losses as insignificant; hence the discrepancy.*

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Grand Old Time

MGM Grand:
Played a typical day time type session at MGM. I like when I get lucky and get seated at a brand new table. Usually I'll find one or two "producers" in a brand new game as opposed to a game that has been going for a while. Reason being, the "producers" have all gone bust by the time a game is an hour or two old. This is not to say such a player may not stumble into a game when an open seat arises. The likelihood, however, of having more than one really soft spot in the game goes way down when a game has been going for a while. As luck would have it, I got to the card room just before 3 pm and got seated in a game just opening up. After a couple of orbits I could tell there were several really soft spots that I was going to look to capitalize on. Alas, I only grinded out about a $60 profit by the time they either went broke or racked up. I did later get a bunch of chips from a lady who appeared to be a tight-passive player. I picked up AK in the big blind and was the only one to call her UTG raise. If she understands her hand values, raising UTG should require a big hand. The flop came down king high and I checked it to her to see her response. She bet out $10 and I called. The turn brought and ace. I actually didn't much like this card because while it gave me top two, it could kill the action as well if the card scared her. I was really hoping she had a hand like AQ but I am not sure she would have continuation bet. She didn't seem like the type and why for so little. In any event, I checked it again because I wanted to see if she would bet the ace and for how much. Again she bet $10. I took a moment and check-raised her $20 more on top. She called me after a small bit of hesitation. The river brought a rag and I bet out $50. I figured if she flatted me we had the same hand and if she raised me then she had one of two sets. If she had decided to push over the top of my bet I think I might have laid my hand down. At best I'd be drawing at half the pot. Goes to show the power of position and what table image can do for you. She mucked immediately and I am still not sure what she called my check-raise with. Pocket queens maybe. Lots of bad tight players will hold onto pocket pairs they know are beat until the bitter end. They wait around so long for the premiums that they just don't know how to release them when the situation dictates it. Anyway, that was the most memorable hand of the day other than the guy earlier in the session who sat down and after three hands started pushing in preflop blind. He pretty much got stacked when someone picked up rockets. This left him with $24 in front and he once again moved in on the next hand. It was folded around to me in the big blind and I looked down at KTs in spades and decided to take a flyer since my hand figured to be better than a random hand. When we turned the cards over I indeed did have the best of it has he tabled a Q8o. Of course the door card is the queen but justice was served as I went runner-runner to a ten high straight. I didn't mind gambling with the guy in that spot as I will most times have the best of it. Plus it's good for table image and the like. Long Island Mike came by the card room and was seated at my table. We played together for about 90 minutes before the last of the donators went and found a rack. That was my queue to rack up as well. Mike told me about a promotion going on at Monte Carlo where you need to accumulate 15 hours of play by next Friday and in return the house is having a 15k free roll that Saturday. So, we headed on over...

Monte Carlo
...and there was only one game going. Mike joined me in the food court where I got the advertised $5 foot long meatball sub from Subway for $10 (gotta love casinos.) After scarfing that down we went back to the card room and put our names on the list. After about ten minutes the floor informs us they are starting a new game. Great! You just read about my love for new games. Well, this one sucked. Right from the jump the we were short handed and people were chopping. We finally got to a full ring but even so the pots were small and the only way to get any value out of hand was to play small ball and hope to not get drawn out on as you make what amount to value bets on each street when you think you're ahead. I ended up giving back an inconsequential amount before we both grew tired of the nittiness. I won the last post with KQ high after all streets were checked. I knew it was time to check out. We headed back to the MGM where Mike sat in a new game and I headed for the exit. I did pick up this cool chip while at Monte Carlo. However, I do not recommend Diablo's Cantina next time you are in town. It
is an overpriced tourist trap in my humble opinion. Wifey and I have gone before to see the local hard rock band Otherwise play there. Good little bar venue as you are right on top of the stage, but paying $7 for a bottle of beer that I could get a six pack of at the local liquor store is just dumb. Anyway, here's a pic of the chip:

MGM Grand
Hours Played: 4.33 hours
Take: $174

Monte Carlo
Hours Played: 1.75
Gave: -$16

Month to Date: $397
Year to Date: $1,643
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $11.77
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 139.56
Sessions Played Year to Date: 36
Win/Loss Record by Session: 21/12 63.64% win rate

I'm Finally Finshed....So Let's Get Started

Well, barring any unforeseen hangups with the submission of my capstone project for my master's degree, I should have the diploma dated with a December graduation date. I spoke with my advisor and she is currently reviewing and grading my work. I've already received, completed, and mailed back my application for graduation. So, keep your fingers crossed that I don't take a bad beat on this one and have to revise my project which will push my graduation date to this coming May. I plan on walking in the ceremony come May as I think my parents deserve the photo op. This has been a long time coming for me and I am sure they are very proud. When we attended Rebecca's graduation ceremony where she received her doctorate, my parents attended and I know they were proud of her. I want them to have the same sort of experience with me, and also have Rebecca's parents down for the event. I should also be graduating with honors which is something I never really dreamed I would ever do. It will be an achievement nobody can take away from me and it is a source of deep pride as I know all the hard work and long hours it took to achieve it. As Stephen Covey states in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, personal victories before public victories. Each course was a personal victory for me as I achieved high marks and the commencement ceremony will be my public victory. I think these small personal victories are also relevant to life on the felt. Each correct read, each proper value bet, each tough fold add to your personal victories. At the end of the month or the year when you add up your sessions and show a significant win for your time, that is the public victory you can share with others should you choose to.

So, I've been working on getting back into the flow of things and the hours required to be successful at this racket. I've also begun to stretch out my sessions and play later into the evening as a way of getting Rebecca used to what is surely to come; 8 - 12 hour days of sessions that run into the wee hours. I didn't think it was right for me to jump right into that lifestyle, for Rebecca's sake as well as the sake of my bankroll. Concentration at the table is just like any other acquired skill, it takes practice to get good at it. One of my biggest edges I have right now is the fact that I don't tilt as often or as hard as most of my opponents. I feel like I start to lose that edge once the session starts to go over six hours or so. I'm thinking of working 4 - 6 hours at a time and then taking a break of an hour or so. The day games at MGM are beatable from what I've experienced thus far so I may work on a schedule where I play there until mid evening, come home and spend some time with Rebecca, then head back out to South Point which is almost within walking distance of our condo complex. I don't know how the games are there, but even if I can grind out another $10 an hour it will be worth my time as I am getting hours and experience in. OK, well tomorrow I will start back with my daily reports from the felt.

As Worm said in an overly quoted movie on this blog, "Hey, at least you're rounding again. You're gonna thank me for that some day."

11/17 - 12/7
Hours Played: 37.92 hours
Take: $813
$ Per Hour: $21.44

November: $574
December Month to Date: $239
Year to Date: $1,485
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $11.13
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 133.48
Sessions Played Year to Date: 34
Win/Loss Record by Session: 20/12 62.50% win rate

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Chilly Kind of Session

It was a cooler kind of day, or should I say night, out here in the desert for yesterday. I'm in a rush and will briefly describe the two pivotal hands that made me a loser on the night. In a straddled pot by the table bully, UTG raises to $15. Another early position players and it's folded around to me in later middle position. I look down at wired 4's and really want to see a flop since if I spike my set I could be in for a big payday. It's folded around to straddle man and he calls the additional $11 and four of us take a flop of 3-4-7 with two diamonds. The straddler checks, the original raiser bets out $25 and the player between us folds. I flopped middle set and a not very scary board and decide to raise it to $75 which is 3x his bet and $50 back to him. I assume the straddler will fold and we will play the pot heads up. To my surprise the straddler check raises all in and the early player mucks. I call as he is capable of making this play with any pocket pair higher than 7's, any two pair, along with hands that beat me. Plus he could be pushing his draw hard if he has something like a flush draw and straight draw combined. However, I did ask him to show me his 56 for the made straight as I called and sure enough he obliged my request. With no improvement on the turn and river I was down a buy in.

A couple hours later after grinding my 2nd buy in up to about $300 I pick up pocket kings in the big blind. It's limped in almost every spot and I make it $17 to go. I only get one caller, an older gentleman who recently sat down that I didn't have much of a read on. I got the sense that he felt I was just trying to pick up all the limps with my raise. He seemed like the kind of guy that disliked younger, aggressive players. The flop came down 2-5-9 rainbow and I bet out $30. He proceeded to min raise me to $60. The min raise can mean one of two things. It's either a weak attempt to get a bluffer to muck his hand or it means a very strong hand that wants action. I went with my gut feeling that he was trying to take the pot away from me. I already had it planned out that if he made a play at me on the flop I was going to push over him. When he insta-called I asked him whether his set was 5's or 9's; he showed me the deuces. Again, I have no luck when it comes to sucking out and most of my stack was wiped out.

So, as we can see, when the pivotal hands go against you it can make for a rough session. Still, I was proud of myself for keeping my head and not letting the coolers get to me. I will give the older gentleman credit, he played his hand much the same way I would have if the roles were reversed. I wonder if he would have been able to not get all in if the shoe was on the other foot. My inclination is no using Tommy Angelo's idea of reciprocal money, this one was a wash. If you're unfamiliar with Tommy's writings I suggest you check out his website at The dude is a funny, witty genius.

Hours Played This Session: 4.66 hours
Gave: -$292
$ Per Hour: -$62.66

Month to Date: -$171
Year to Date: $672
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $7.03
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 95.56
Sessions Played Year to Date: 22
Win/Loss Record by Session:13/9 6.00% win rate

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Quick Recap Of The Past Several Weeks

It's been a while since I've posted and I don't really recall of the particulars to each of the sessions I've played. So, rather than struggle to come up with material, I am simply posting my results for the past couple weeks. For the most part I've been running good and playing pretty well to boot. Still need to focus on picking up my number of hours of play and coming up with a schedule that promotes playing a high number of hours along with a balanced home life. I'll keep working on it.

Bellagio (4 pm - 7 pm)
Hours Played This Session: 2.66
Take: $166
$ Per Hour: $62.41

Bally's Las Vegas (9:15 pm - 11:30 pm)
Hours Played This Session: 2.25
Take: $70
$ Per Hour: $31.11

Month to Date: $737
Year to Date: $588
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $7.76
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 75.74
Sessions Played Year to Date: 17
Win/Loss Record by Session:10/7 58.82% win rate

Harrah's Las Vegas
Hours Played This Session: 2.55 hours
Take: $255
$ Per Hour: $100.00

Month to Date: $992
Year to Date: $843
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $10.81
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 77.99
Sessions Played Year to Date: 18
Win/Loss Record by Session:11/7 61.11% win rate

MGM Grand
Hours Played This Session: 5.66 hours
Take: $202
$ Per Hour: $35.69

Month to Date: $202
Year to Date: $1,045
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $12.49
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 83.65
Sessions Played Year to Date: 19
Win/Loss Record by Session:12/7 63.16% win rate

The M Resort
Hours Played This Session: 4.25 hours
Gave: $232
$ Per Hour: -$54.59

Month to Date: -$30
Year to Date: $813
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $9.25
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 87.90
Sessions Played Year to Date: 20
Win/Loss Record by Session:12/8 60.00% win rate

MGM Grand
Hours Played This Session: 3.00 hours
Take: $151
$ Per Hour: $50.33

Month to Date: $121
Year to Date: $964
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $10.61
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 90.90
Sessions Played Year to Date: 21
Win/Loss Record by Session:13/8 6.00% win rate

Thursday, August 20, 2009

TI Treasure Trove

Decided to try Treasure Island as have heard that this room has lots of action. They spread a $1/$3 no limit game instead of the traditional $1/$2. Doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it does increase the average opening raise somewhat. When I got there only one table was going. Got in the action in about 15 minutes and was not disappointed. The game was actually loose/fairly aggressive with lots of chips in the center pre-flop. Most players were playing relatively deep (majority were sitting on stacks around the $300 max buy) which is how I love to play since I know if I can get my stack in the center I will be doubling through them should I win the hand. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to pick up many stackable hands (suited connectors and small pairs) and when I did I completely missed the flop. I did see one of my opponents pull of a move I would have liked to have done. He took the 75s in diamonds, flopped two pair to the raiser, and got all his chips in on the flop to the raiser's over pair. The board did not counterfeit him nor did his opponent catch a miracle to make a set and he stacked him with those beautiful little cards.

Anyway, the only hand worth mentioning came during one of the many straddles that were being put on for $6. I was in late-middle position, with an open limper directly to my right. With $19 in the pot (the $1 small blind, the $3 big blind, the $6 live straddle, and the $6 limper) I decided to make a play for the pot with KQ0 and raised it up to $25 to go. I got called by the small blind who was a loose British lad, the loose kid who put the straddle on called, and the limper who was a local folded. I had seen him fold pre-flop prior to a large raise and that was part of my plan going in when I made the play. I thought for sure the plan had back fired with an ace and a jack came down on the flop. With position on both players they checked to me. I bet out $60 as continuation bet thinking I am either going to get called or check raised with those two big cards out there. But I still felt it would be hard for them to put me on a hand that did not hit that flop and I needed to represent a hand like AK since there was so much money out there. Thankfully, both players folded to my raise and I took down the pot with nothing more than a gutshot straight draw. I was playing 4 outs but at least they were to the nuts as the board was a rainbow. Now that is the true definition of a semi-bluff. After a couple of calling stations busted from the table I decided I really didn't want to tangle with the loose aggro's that were left. Taking a small win I headed over to The Mirage where I checked out the games. Long Island Mike was along with me for the TI adventure and he pulled a nice pot from the Brit when his top pair, top kicker was good enough. He bet throughout the hand, got called on every round, and when he showed down big slick, the Brit mucked. There were draws to Broadway on the board by the river and I thought for sure it would have taken at least 2 pair to win that hand. My guess is the Brit had a pair and picked up a straight draw on the turn but the river never got there. LI only had about $80 on the river when he moved in and I suspect the Brit had a hand like KJ where he picked up an open ended straight draw with the queen that fell on the turn as the flop contained a king and a ten and felt like the price was right to make a crying call as the pot contained well over $300.

After surveying the action at Mirage, we decided to grab a couple beers, recap the action, and just chat about his newly acquired diamond status. It was a quick session for me and I should have probably sat in a game at Mirage, but I really wanted to share in the reflected glory of Mike's nice sized take for the day which was over $300. It doesn't sound like much when read the stories about the stakes some people play for, but for us it is substantial. If either of us could average a daily take of $300 we'd be living pretty sweet and would be able to move up to $2/$5
no limit rather quickly. Alas, neither of us are on this kind of clip yet.

I'd like to try this game again soon, but in the meantime I'd like to grind my bankroll up some. I'm paying my bills out of my bank account right now and I am hoping this is the last month I'll be doing so. I am almost at the point where my cash on hand is enough to finance my play with the remainder of my bankroll safely tucked away in my bank account. I play so much better when I know I have several buy ins on me if things don't go well early in a session.

Hours Played This Session: 2.25
Take: $64
$ Per Hour: $28.44

Month to Date: $501.00
Year to Date: $352
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $4.97
Total Hours Played Year to Date:70.83
Sessions Played Year to Date: 15
Win/Loss Record by Session: 8/7 53.33% win rate

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thought of the Week 8/15 - 8/21: Am I Compulsive?


Good Question and one that I've been thinking about for some time now. According to the definition of compulsive is:


Psychology. a person whose behavior is governed by a compulsion.

Ok, that wasn't too insightful, let's try this again by delving into the meaning of compulsion:


Psychology. a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, esp. one that is irrational or contrary to one's will.

Good, now we're getting somewhere. Some might say that my need to make a living by playing poker would be good a representation of the psychological definition of compulsion. But honestly that's not what's on my mind today as I sit down to write this column. And maybe, just maybe, the fact that I am not considering what I do for a living, though it is highly irrational and most likely contrary to at least the good will of my life when I talk about my compulsive behaviors might sum it up.

Ahh, but I digress. If you stumbled upon my last thought of the week (albeit it was two weeks ago - so much for the title of the column) you will see that I am working on self actualization and becoming a better human being and all that kind of stuff. And believe you me, I need to be working on living a better life. And that's what got me to thinking about being compulsive. See, ever since I got here to Vegas, I have kind of let myself slip into some very bad and destructive habits. Especially with my consumption of alcohol. And my consumption became compulsive, much like it did when I lived in Orlando, FL for 9 months. I moved down there right after I finished my undergrad degree and I really fell off the deep end. Moving away from home a second time and reaching the same result made me realize that I have this self destruct gene hiding somewhere in me. And when my life lacks structure, that demon likes to slowly poke his head out and go on to consume my life. I honestly think I don't have a drinking problem, but I'm sure 99.99% of problem drinkers feel that way. I think my problem stems back to feelings of self worth and symptoms of depression. Things I really don't want to delve into here and now, I just reference them for the basis why I repeatedly have self destructed. And if that is one form of compulsion, then I figured there must be a flip side to it as well.

I go through these spurts in life where I just degen it up for a period of time and then I totally flip the script and start living life the way I really feel it should be lived. I've entered that period in my life once again. As I sit here and write this today, I have achieved my daily goals for the past 3 days of working out. Sounds silly and simple but believe me when you go from drinking almost every day to putting the stuff down, not thinking about, and having most of your waking thoughts consumed by planning your training sessions it's like I've gone through an exorcism of sorts. I make it sound more dramatic than what it actually is, but I'm a writer so deal with it. I need to use imagery every now and then God damnit. Anyway, I'm like totally addicted to working out now. I went through this stage about 2 years back when I signed on to manage a small gym in Bellmawr, NJ and went on to get into maybe the best shape of my life. Rebecca deserves that guy back in her life, so I am going to use my compulsion for good not evil and hopefully with the support and backing of my friends I'll be able to walk the line.

An added bonus is I feel so much better about myself and it will reflect in my play. When you build self confidence, it transcends the gym. I know I will begin to trust my reads more and have the follow through to make a risky play when I believe it is the right time to do so. Also, being in better shape with help with my stamina and mental focus. In essence, this should help my career. At the very least, in a couple of months I'll be able to sit by the pool and look good while doing so.

Oh, did I mention I weighed in at 195.8 lbs yesterday. I should be at 165 lbs for my height and build. Guess I got a lot of work to do. I'll keep you up to date on my progress and I am now accountable to all of you that read this. Feel free to kick me in the ass when I slack and slap me on the back when the boy done good.

Power Poker

Or, this should be more aptly titled, "Find Two Good Cards and Push Pre-Flop Against Weak Opponents." Honestly, my play was not more complicated than that. I only won 3 hands this session. Long Island Mike and I decided to meet up and play an evening session together. Originally I wanted MGM as I haven't played there since making my return to poker but he convinced me that we should play Bally's. I like playing the Harrah's rooms in general since they award 28 tier credit points plus the industry standard of $1 an hour towards food and beverage. LI is almost at diamond card status so I will be mooching off him from here on out as I will be his sidekick when he goes into the diamond club lounge. I like the idea of getting free beverages and munchies courtesy of Caesar's Entertainment or whatever Harrah's is calling itself this year.

When we get to Bally's 3 tables of $1/$2 NL are going and LI puts on his radar and finds what he thinks is the best of the 3 tables that just also so happens to have two empty seats in it. In the first hand I play after folding for about 4 orbits straight, I actually decide to get cheeky and I make a small $7 raise under the gun with KJs in diamonds. While being out of position, I really like big suited cards in NL. KJ is a hand I actually hate, but I feel like if I get the multi-way pot that I suspect I will I can turn it into a moneymaker with the right flop. I get 4 callers and the flop comes down ace high with two diamonds. I really like this flop since I am sure one of my opponents will have spiked the ace. I make a continuation bet of $15 (with the hope of disguising my hand should a diamond fall on the turn) and get called in one spot. A beautiful diamond falls on the turn and with the ace of diamonds out I am holding the nuts. First to act I bet out $30 really believing my opponent can not put me on the diamond draw. I guess between the the diamonds being out there along with a probable shitty kicker to go with his ace he decided he was beat and mucked. My really tight image I'm sure didn't help either. I decided to bet out as oppose to check the flush on the turn because I watch too many players make that play, they get checked behind, and then have to bet out on the river and then their opponent releases his hand. I like to set up the hand so that when an opponent looks back on it he can't figure out where he was supposed to get away from it. Didn't happen this time, but I'm pretty sure it's the better of the two plays since you can disguise your hand by betting the whole way. Against a timid player this also makes for a good semi-bluff on the flop because now you are betting with an additional 9 outs. If the flush card comes, you can bet a decent size (say half the pot) and get that weak player to fold.

In the second hand, I am again UTG and look down at AKs in clubs. This time I raise to $12 and a drunk lady two seats to my left who has been spewing chips all night from what I gathered (she recently sat back down after being away from the table for half an hour presumably in her hotel room or at an ATM getting more cash) re-raised me to about $50 to go which set her all in. This folds out all the other players and I make the call. She tables KQo and I have the best of it going to the flop. Neither of us improve our hands and I take down a decent pot. I'm feeling pretty good about the line up we have at the table and about an hour later I pick up wired kings again in early position. I raise to $12 and it gets folded around to a late position player who makes it $40 to go. This player has been really loose with his chips and not willing to release a hand. I have him slightly covered if I were to call the $40 and decide to move all in for an additional $240 on top of his raise. He tanks for about a minute and calls. I immediately table my kings knowing they are good right now as he would have called immediately with rockets. The flop comes down gin for me with a beautiful king of hearts on the flop to go with a jack and a rag to make a rainbow. The turn is an ace and I am pretty sure he is holding AK or pocket queens at this point. I have him drawing dead to a ten with queens and with AK dead to one of the two aces left in the deck. The river brings a heart dropping ace and when he lets out a cheer and pumps his fist I truly believe I just got runner-runnered to a bigger boat. However, he still hasn't turned his hole cards over yet and the dealer pushed my hand forward to show kings full of aces. At this point, my opponent's face was priceless as it went expressionless. He never showed his hand as he mucked and the monster pot was sent my way. I can only guess that he had that big chick after all for a moment believed that his trip aces were good forgetting that they made me a boat. For once can I have a hand where I don't have to sweat the two outers getting there on me. Anyway, for the rest of the session I got back to folding which I am getting really good at and only playing some suited aces and pocket pairs which never improved after the flop.

This was my first night session and we didn't get started till 10:40 pm. It took me almost an hour to get to Bally's as all of Vegas seems to be under construction at the same time. Great planning by the city fathers or the Clark County jackasses. How about only doing a couple of projects at a time so that those of us in the know can still navigate around the city without sitting in traffic for hours and putting ourselves on tilt before the first brutal beat even registers at the table. I'm going to push Mike for MGM. It's a great room and I can get there without really experiencing any major traffic or construction problems.

Hours Played This Session: 2.83
Take: $284
$ Per Hour: $100.35

Month to Date: $437
Year to Date: $288
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $4.20
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 68.58
Sessions Played Year to Date: 14
Win/Loss Record by Session: 7/7 50.00% win rate

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Table Change That Made All The Difference

So my plan was to cash in some Wynn chips I had lying around and then head down to MGM Grand to play $1/$2 NL. After cashing the chips, I decided to cruise The Strip down. I really love riding along The Strip and being surrounded by all the sights and sounds. However, with all the construction going on it turned out to be a bad idea. My buddy Long Island Mike plays a session around noon at Harrah's. At this point, it was a little after 2 pm so I decided to make a detour and stop at Harrah's to see if he wanted to get some lunch. When I got there I found him in his usual $1/$2 NL game and sat down behind him to shoot the shit and see how he had been. It had been about a week since we played together so I figured he would have some decent stories to tell me. He still needed to play about 90 minutes to qualify for his daily bonus and since I was in no rush I just sweated him and we caught up. His game broke right around the time he made his hours so after cashing out we decided to slide across the street to The Mirage to eat at BLT Burger. Each of us enjoyed the Black Angus half pounders we got, but I still say the best angus burgers in town belong to Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. I've had burgers now at Strip Burger at The Fashion Show Mall, Le Burger Brasserie at Paris, and of course the aforementioned BLT Burger at The Mirage. There's just something about Burger Bar's burgers that are just aces in my book.

With our stomachs full we set out for poker glory by checking out The Mirage Poker Room. I've only played here once way back when I was out to Vegas on a vacation but I have always loved the room. Something about the history behind it, knowing I am sitting in the same room that the classic players used to frequent daily to relieve millionaires and home town heros alike of their bankrolls. There were four tables going, each with 8 - 9 players at each table. Long Island Mike is a table selection swami and after surveying the scene he settled on the table he wanted to play at. Instead, though, the floor woman sat us one table over since there were to seats available and we wanted to play together. Right off the bat Mikey loses about half his stack. After about 30 minutes of play, he makes the choice to get a seat change to the table he originally liked. I hang on at our original table but soon after he leaves I find myself reaching in my pocket to reload. I just couldn't hit a flop with pretty good hands, like AKs and AQs. I got my fair share of small pocket pairs but failed to flop any sets. I thought it was going to be one of those sessions. Finally, I was able to get a table change to Mike's table. However, the floorman did me no favors. Another table had broken about 10 minutes after I had went to the desk to ask for the table change. The floor, instead of honoring my request first, starts seating players from the broken game in the three other games that were going. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I should get first dibs on a seat in the game I requested and then the players from the broken game should fill in the remaining seats at the tables. I made a comment to Mike when I sat down that the floor man didn't give me the time of day because I didn't tip him. The dealer took offense to this but I still stand firm in my belief. The bigger rooms just don't tend to care as much about taking care of the players, with the exception of The Wynn and possibly The Venetian, but I haven't played there enough to know, just what I've heard. Places like Bellagio for instance could give a fuck about low limit players. Hell, they don't even take your player's card there and on top of it, if you do play long enough and request a $15 paper food comp, you are expected to tip $5 for it. WTF? So I am netting $10. Ok, that's not necessarily bad if I've only played 5 hours (I'd be getting $2/hr which is above industry standard,) but it rubs me the wrong way that I need to pay off the floor to get one.

But I digress. I reload once again upon sitting down at the new table I am into the game for about $360 (a little over $200 in front of me and stuck $160.) I pick up AK on the button but an Asian player who has just reloaded for $200 has made it $15 to go from middle position. I take some time and consider what I should do. I could three bet but the way I've been running I decide to cold call the $15. A loose/aggressive African American player in the blind calls and an early position limper closes the action with his call. The flop comes down ace high. The blind and early limper check to the raiser and he fires $25. I re-pop it to $75, making it 3x the Asian guy's bet. I figure this should get the limpers out and I'll get to play him heads up in position with what is most likely the best hand. I am praying I have him dominated with something like AQ or AJ. To my surprise he shoves over me. I insta-call because I am not going to out think myself. If he flopped a set of aces, well then it was just unlucky that the case ace fell. As I always do, I instantly turn my hand over and wait for his reaction. He meekly turns over wired queens and his two outer never gets there. Sweet! I stack him and with the other $30 in the pot I am now ahead for the session. Maybe this is a sign of things to come.

The very next hand I pick up AQs in hearts in the cut off. This time an older gentleman raises preflop from middle position and I flat call along with a couple others. The flop comes down queen high. Gin! Top pair, top kicker. It gets checked around to me. I get the size of the pot which is $40 and only get called by older gentleman. This makes me wonder as he doesn't seem like the kind of guy to call a large bet with only a draw. To go with the queen there was a jack on board. The turn brought a blank and he checked again to me. Tommy Angelo's words were ringing in my ear when he says if someone plays passively against you assume they are weak until you get further notice. I made a 2/3 pot size bet on the turn and got check raised shoved. I think that is what he meant by further notice. I muck my hand face up (something I really gotta stop doing) and this induces the old man to reveal his hole cards to me (that is one upside I've found to mucking your hand face up, those that are so proud of their hole cards will show you what they held.) I was looking at aces which I felt was the case, or he flopped a set of jacks or queens. In any event I knew I was beat and I think it was a pretty good fold, since the pot was only laying me about 3 - 1 to make that call. I could be drawing dead or at the very best to 2 outs which is a 22 -1 shot (if he specifically kings I would have had 5 outs with 2 queens and 3 aces left in the deck for a 8.20 - 1 situation which is still the worst of it.)

So I gave away about $90 in that hand, but I felt like I was playing really well and this line up was definitely much better than the one at the previos table. It always a good sign when limpers are willing to call fairly large preflop raises with hands that do not work well for stacking opponents post flop. There were way too many hands to go over or even accuarately remember so I will conclude with two hands that I believe are the best played hands of my fledling career thus far. To give you some background information, I am seated in seat 10 to the right of the dealer and to my left in seat 1 was the loose/aggressive African American player. This guy was one hell of a player. He played like how I imagined Doyle Bruson played when he was a Texas rounder in the 60s and 70s. He had a mountain of chips in front of him, anywhere $600 to $800 at any given time. He was the type of player that gave action to get action. He was paying for the big pots he played by picking up lots of small and medium sized ones all the time. He probably played about 70% of his hands and raised approximately 80% of the hands he played. I immediately had a ton of respect for the guy because I've always wished I could play that style. However, you have to be true to yourself and since I am relatively tight I used that image to beat him out of the follow two pots. Both times I had position on him which I think is the lesson to be learned from this. Tommy Angelo, an author I mention often because he has such great insight into the game, has stated that his bread and butter in poker comes from the last three seats: the button, the cut off, and the hijack seats.

The action happened so fast in the first hand that I do not remember all the particulars. Suffice it to say it was raised preflop and I am on the button with AhKd. The flop comes down all middle cards with two hearts. This is the type of flop that could have possibly hit him, especially with suited connectors or a small to middle pocket pair. He leads out for $45. After some deliberation a thought came to mind. Being that I held the trump ace for the heart draw, I decided to call his bet and if any heart, king, or ace fell on the turn I was going to push no matter what. I figured this gave me 13 cards to push with on the turn. A heart fell and to my surprise he checked to me. I pushed my stack in and after tanking for a few minutes he released his hand. Beautiful. Now I know this guy respects my game and I can get him to lay down some hands.

On the second hand, I raise on the button with wired 7s to $18 (I meant to make it $13 but somehow an extra nickel got in there.) Seat #1 calls my raise and we take the flop heads up. He checks to me and I bet out $35 a flop that comes king high. I was trying to represent the king, but unfortunately he came along. I was really hoping to spike one of my 7s so that I could suck out on him if he actually held a king. The turn brought an ace and I immediately fired out $60. Hell, I figured if he didn't believe I had a king, maybe he'll believe I had an ace. I did raise preflop and the hands I have shown to this point have all been premiums. He lays down the hand and I honestly believe I won two fairly large pots without the best hand. Hopefully I am starting to get the hang of this no limit stuff. Only time will tell, but I do feel like I am improving and that's my focus along with grinding out enough cash to pay the bills.

Hours Played This Session: 4.17
Take: $153
$ Per Hour: $36.70

Month to Date: $153
Year to Date: $4
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $0.06
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 65.75
Sessions Played Year to Date: 13
Win/Loss Record by Session: 6/7 46.15% win rate

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The DMV and Taking Chinners

In my attempt to get myself right I've been working on getting everything away from the felt straightened out so that I can focus while I'm playing. That meant getting my smog check done yesterday and then sitting at the DMV for 3 hours. We all have DMV stories and they all suck. However, I still can't help but share mine. At the Nevada DMV in Henderson, I'm sure like DMV's all around the country, you must first go to the "Information Desk" to tell them why you have graced them with your presence and to insure you have all necessary documentation prior to taking up the time of one of the clerks. So after my 15 minutes in line waiting I finally get to see an information specialist. I always try to be kind to anyone working a shitty job because from what I can tell people take out their frustrations on these people regularly. With that in mind I get to the desk and proceed to explain that I am here to register my car (which I just had shipped here from Jersey, wink wink) and that I need to change the address on my license. I show him that I've done my homework and that I've compiled all required documentation to make this a smooth and hopefully effortless experience. He is a nice guy and seems pleased I'm not a jackass who hasn't come unprepared. He does however inquire if I've had my VIN inspection completed yet. Well, no I have not but I was told that the inspection happens here. He replies that indeed it does but I will have to go back out to my car and take it around the corner to the place where the inspection happens. He does kindly provide me with my ticket which is G463. They are only on G325 at this point so I figure I have time to kill. The bitch of the matter is I got lucky when I got there and found a parking spot which is no simple task. The DMV has about 200 spots and about 400 people are in the building at any given time. I get the test done rather quickly and proceed to drive around for a half hour until another spot opens up. I get back in the building and they are on G375. Hey great, I've made pretty much no progress.

Fast forward an hour and I am about 25 spots away from getting this taken care of when I finally believe there truly is a God...and he hates me. The fire alarm goes off. I am sitting in a chair about 5 feet from the exit and I proceed not to move until told to do so. Hell, I'm a gambling man and I place the odds at about 100 - 1 that this is a real fire. After a couple of minutes one of the clerks yells at us, "The fire alarm is going off. What is wrong with you people! You have to get out of the building!" What's wrong with us? We've been waiting here for 2 hours while you see 4 people an hour at your station. I don't see any smoke or flames my ass wasn't going anywhere until yours did. We proceed to make it outside and across the street where I bake in the 109 degree sun for 15 minutes until they determine it was a false alarm. We get back inside and I finally get my shit squared away and pay the state $155. The whole DMV system is enough to put the most even keel person on tilt. I commented to wifey via text that I am surprised you don't hear about people going postal at DMV's and shooting the places up. It sucks all the way down the line. You have to wait forever, you have to pay way too much, and then you take it out on the people that work there. Or, if you work there, you deal with the same shit day and day out for however many years until you retire. It's enough to drive anyone insane. Anyway, I'm legit now so no fear of getting pulled over with my unregistered vehicle with Jersey tags on it anymore.

Wifey has been getting toothaches and went to the dentist today. He told her she needed to get a root canal. This is her second one. WTF? He is going to fit her in today and the out of pocket expense is $500. Again, WTF? He works at a hospital for Christ sake, she should have the best insurance around. I hope she isn't in too much pain afterwards because we have a comped room at Bally's tonight. Hopefully a little proseco and time away from the cat will work wonders for her. Actually, I just hope she can eat tonight because I want Maggiano's lobster ravioli. Chinner after chinner around here. No poker this week, Chuck and family get into town on Tuesday so I have to make sure everything here is in order. Can't let the real world think we actually live like this.

Have a great weekend everyone and I'll get back to my exploits soon. Talk to you then