Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grinding - Days 14 - 18

Just as I'm starting to find my groove the World Series of Poker rolls into town. Now I don't have any aspirations of playing any WSOP events this year but I can still hear the siren song and cannot resist heading down to the Rio to watch. While this is great fun and can be a bit of learning experience if you are able to watch a particular table for long enough or follow a favorite player around for a day to watch how he handles himself, it doesn't do much to put money in my billfold.

Finally getting around to post the results of 4 days worth of play my mind is blank trying to think back to all the hands I played, all the beats I took, and the lucky rivers I caught to suck out. Overall, I feel like I am steadily improving. Things I am doing better are timely bluffing when I sense weakness, and continued betting when Im not quite sure where I'm at. After all, when you bet or raise there are two ways to win, when you call you must show down the best hand.

Other than that, the grind is starting to become just that. I work my ass off for session only to take some beats right before I leave and then I have nothing to show for my time at the table. Hey, at least recently they've still been wins and not losses. Like I always say, it much easier to report back to the missus and inform her that I had an inconsequential win rather than an inconsequential loss. Somehow, the losses aren't ever inconsequential.

The month of May is in the books and I posted a postive $240 increase to the bankroll. I'm actually really happy with that figure believe it or not since I pissed away a little less than that much in the Sunset Station version of $4/$8 before feeling out GVR and deciding it was the game for me. I've also learned that the mid-day game at GVR allows for me to play a much more confident game than does the evening game. At night, the opponents are looser and more aggressive (and many times drunk or on the verge.) With a bigger bankroll, this will be a better investment of my time as I will show a greater profit over the long haul, but for now I like the safety and comfort of the old farts during the day. they never check-raise me; they rarely raise me with clearly the best hand when they have position and I donk it into them. yet, they still continuely call me down with their weaker holdings. I get to be the bully during the day while at night I sometimes get my lunch money stolen from me. Hopefully June will provide a lot of good results for me. I'm off to a decent start but still yearn to put in more hours. The game didn't get going to 1:15 pm today which only gives me 2 - 3 hours (depending on how hungry I get) to make my money for the day. that turns out to be a lot of pressure.

Fun facts for my play at GVR for the month of May:
total sessions played:
Win/Loss:7/1 (87.5% winning percentage)
Total hours played: 19
Hourly Win Rate: $23.18/hr
Total Win: $442

It's so easy to provide stats that make you feel good. But feeling good usually translates into playin well. You can check out the daily numbers for the past 4 playing days below:

Hours Played this session: 3.25
Gave: $32
$ Per Hour: -$9.95

Month to Date: $54
Year to Date: $54
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $1.12
Total Bankroll: $671

Hours Played this session: 2
Take: $84
$ Per Hour: $42

Earn: Month to Date: $138
Year to Date: $138
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $2.74
Total Bankroll: $755

Hours Played this session: 1.75
Take: $102
$ Per Hour: $58.29
Month to Date: $240
Year to Date: $240
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $4.61
Total Bankroll: $857
Hours Played This Session: 2.33
Take: $126
$ Per Hour: $54.08
Month to Date: $126
Year to Date: $366
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $6.73
Total Bankroll: $983
Hours Played This Session: 2
Take: $19
$ Per Hour: $9.50

Month to Date: $145
Year to Date: $385
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $6.83
Total Bankroll: $1,002

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Soft Seat in Queens - Day 13

"We get outta here, get some coffee, ride over to that soft seat in Queens..." Joey Knish to Mikey McDermott, from the screenplay Rounders.

That's the advice I took yesterday when I headed back to GVR. My style of play works very well against the loose passive locals of Henderson. My session, though, started off brutal. I got myself involved in a pot with pocket 77 against a loose aggressive opponent. the flop came down 10-9-x. In first position I checked it figuring my opponent would be with completely nothing. although, this board is very much in the playable range for any opponent, I still decided I was going to check raise. I had been playing tight and aggressive for the first 90 minutes so there was also no reason for my opponent to doubt that I had the goods, other than that I might wait till the turn to pull the trigger. My opponent called and a 7 fell off the deck on the turn. It improved my hand considerably but it still gave me that feeling you get when the card that just came off helped your opponent more than it helped you. I lead out on the turn and got raised. hmmm, was I looking at a made straight, a semi-bluff, two pair, or a bigger set? I didn't think my opponent was capable of bluff raising in this spot since I showed so much strength with the check-raise on the flop. the river brought a little card and I checked to my opponent who set me in for my last $8 (I should have just bet out anyway.) he showed top two pair (10-9) and I scooped the pot by hitting my two outer on the turn. I was way behind on the flop so for once I was the donkey who sucked out...and it felt satisfying to catch a break finally. I parlayed that pot which took me from the felt to over $80 and it felt like I caugth some momentum. In one of the strangest pots I've ever played I check in the BB with Q9o and the flop comes 9 high. I bet out on the flop into 6 callers hoping to get a couple to drop out; they all stay. the turn card still keeps me with top pair but now the board is much more coordinated. I bet out again and get three callers. the river brings an 8 and now once again I believe I'm so far behind. I check, the player to my left checked (passive calling station) and the player from the previous hand I detailed bets out. the pot was huge and I figured I had plenty of a hand to call him. I also figured the player behind me would not overcall with anything less that two pair. my opponent showed a smaller 9 and had not paired his kicker. the player behind me shows J8o for middle pair, and my Q90 hold up to win a monster pot.

It's so ironic that junk hands at times win huge pots like that while I had my Aces cracked once again. this time it was a bit my fault since I did not bet the turn when the betting doubles to $8. I gave an opponent a free card and he spiked a set on me (crazy enough, he hit is two outer to a set of 7s.) the flop came down Q-J-x with two spades. when I bet I got called in two spots, but I wussed out and did not bet the turn like I am supposed to. I deserved to lose the pot for making that mistake. I cannot allow a free draw to the spades and I must protect me hand. don't know what I was thinking, but lesson learned. thankfully the pot was not huge so the tuition for this course didn't put me on tilt...too much :-)

"show him what he won Johnny!!"

Hours Played this session: 3.66
Take: $83
$ Per Hour: $22.68

Earn: Month to Date: $86
Year to Date: $86
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $1.91
Total Bankroll: $703

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Poker Lessons At Bellagio - Day 12

I decided to head to the Strip yesterday in search of tourists looking to blow their money over the holiday weekend. I was not disappointed with the amount of volume I found. I first made my way over to Caesar's Palace since I read in a post on that the $4/$8 game there was very soft. The place was teeming with people with full wallets blowing their hard earned cash in the pits and on the one arm bandits. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the poker room at about 11 there was not even a list of interest for the game. I worked my way out of the cavernous casino resort (getting lost and turned about a couple of times) and worked my way across Flamingo to Bellagio where I knew there would be plenty of games going on. Not surprisingly, the poker room was jammed when I arrived. I waited about 15 minutes for the floor staff to organize a new $4/$8 game and soon I was taking flops in the hallowed room graced with photos of poker legends past and present. I was sitting one table over from where Rebecca and I had watched Gus Hansen play in the WPT $25,000 Championship event. I smiled inwardly about how very cool that was. That didn't last too long though as the game was brisker than any limit game I had ever played. I was running my starting stack down when I picked up AKs in diamonds under the gun and raised. the player to my left was a dealer at Bellagio and playing real fast like many dealers do (they like to think they can outplay you after the flop so they take the lead whenever they can.) a girl who had just sat down in the game made it three bets and a WPT brat made it four bets because he liked to gamble and jam up the pots. Five bets is the cap at Bellagio and I decided to go that route since I figured one of the two players behind me would do so anyway. The flop came down King high with two diamonds. I could vaguely here Vince Van Patton saying something about show tunes going off in my head. I bet out figuring to get raised but instead I got called in two spots (the dealer and the chick.) the turn was one of my money cards as another King hit the board. I lead again and this time only the girl called me. the river was meaningless and I bet again. she called me down and I showed her my trip Kings. she got steamy and turned over Aces. hey, for once I drew out on the rockets. I also drew out on them a bit later holding 77 in the big blind when it was folded around to the button who raised. I reraised thinking it was a steal raise plus any time I am playing against the button when he raises I want to play back at him and get the big blind to fold. long story short, a 7 falls on the flop and I get what little money I had left in by the river beat the rockets. but alas, I had my own Aces get cracked when WPT kid called my early position raise with Q4s in spades and flopping a flush. He outplayed me on the turn and the river but I figured he was just being an idiot like I had seen him play earlier hands. the tell tale sign should have been when he pounded the table to check and when I bet he would call. i truly thought he was trying to put on a reverse tell since this kid had a serious case of fancy play syndrome. the following odds are provided by Mike Caro at

The probability that a flush will flop if you hold suited cards...

Expressed in percent (%) is: 0.84
The odds against it are: 118 to 1

I can now say that I got ran down by a 118 to 1 long shot :-)

The lesson I got out of this session which I paid a tuition of $88 for was that in very loose aggressive games fluctations are much greater and you cannot let that affect your decision making. You just need to adjust your game by pushing your edges when you're ahead to earn the maximum since so many times you will have to call down bets on the river and payoff tricky players when you are holding a marginal hand. Also, choosing a seat is key. With only one tricky aggressive player at the table I would do my best to get on his left. this game had several so I wasn't sure where I should move to should the opportunity arise so I stayed put for the session. my bankroll is not quite ready for serious amusement park rides so I will go back to playing at the locals shops like GVR where they are not as fast with their money and I am actually considered an aggressive player in the games. I like having that image of being a tough aggressive solid player without really getting away from solid ABC fundamentals. the local players tend to be passive calling stations. I still need a lot of work on my game when it comes to playing against more than one very loose aggresive player. The Bellagio game I played in was dominated by young guns with way too much money to burn and with too many hours of watching televised poker tournies under their belts. they were looking to gamble and doing silly things like raising blind and straddling and then playing their hand blind after the flop. normally I'm all in favor of anything that gives an edge, but true be told I'm playing on a short bankroll so I am looking for the least amount of variance right now. Hey, at least I recognize my deficiencies and I have something to work towards.

the figures for yesterday:

Hours Played this session: 3.5
Gave: $88
$ Per Hour: -$25.14

Month to Date: $3
Year to Date: $3

Hourly Rate Year to Date: $0.07
Total Bankroll: $620

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Word On My Number Of Hours - Days 10 & 11

It's common knowledge to anyone in the know that playing poker for a living is much like any other job in that you get out of it what you put into it. And right now as you can see I am not putting in all that much in terms of playing time. It's not for lack of wanting though. Currently, with my home life schedule I am obligated to take Rebecca to work and pick her up when she is done. That accounts for approximately 2 hours on the road each day. I would be game for going directly to GVR and sitting in a game for the next 6 hours, but unfortunately that is not possible. the $4/$8 game does not get going there until mid morning. Usually when I get home from taking wifey to work in the morning I will do a little bit of housework, though nothing too strenous as I am not yet that domesticated. Add in making some breakfast and next thing you know it's about 11. So I roll on over to GVR and one table is going with a modest list for a second table. Either I will wait about 30 minutes for a seat in the current game or a new one will open. Either way, it's usually almost noon by the time we get going if it's a brand new game (they have to open the table, sell chips, wait for all the players to get settled, then deal high card for button.) That means I am left with about 3 hours for playing since I will get something to eat before having to pick up Rebecca between 4 and 4:30. Nights, at this point, are reserved for home time so that is my long drawn out excuse for not logging enough hours and why I am posting wins of $20 and $40 a day.

With all that said, I am getting really excited about how much my game is improving. I am making timely bluffs and rarely getting picked off (which means I should probably be bluffing more) and I am playing my marginal hands correctly in regards to position (many times checking in first position when I know I am going to call anyway and sometimes either winning a battle of mediocrity or picking off a bluff and with position value betting my upper level marginal hands when I sense weakness.) The cards are starting to come off the deck more proportionally and I am picking up my fair share of playable hands. Last week I would go days on end without picking anything up. And I continue to improve on the use of my tight table image. Observant players don't expect me to fire two and three barrels at pots. They feel like if I am that committed to a pot I must have the goods. I can't wait to get picked off and then be able to work on a table image that shows I am willing to bluff at times. That should to my overall bottom line as the gamblers at the table will be more likely to call me down. I look forward to changing gears depending on who is in the pot with me. I know that even in limit play, you can still play the players just as much as the cards dealt.

Good talking to you, here's the numbers for the past two days. Rebecca is off today and so am I. too bad the nice weather also took off today.

Hours Played this session: 2.25
Take: $10
$ Per Hour: $4.44

Month to Date: $51
Year to Date: $51
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $1.42
Total Bankroll: $668

Hours Played this session: 2
Take: $40
$ Per Hour: $20.00

Month to Date: $91
Year to Date: $91
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $2.40
Total Bankroll: $708

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting Back on Track - Day 9

Instead of playing during the day, I decided to relax and have a few cocktails while I watched the Champions League final between Manchester United and Chelsea. It was a great match under tough wet conditions. I should have went to Quinn's since I was in GVR already, but decided to stay at the sports bar next to the sports book. I checked out the poker room after the match was over and there were two games of $4/$8 going which made me happy. looks like GVR is going to be my new stomping grounds. I didn't have enough time to sit and play since the match ended at 2:30 so I decided to go home and take a 50 minute nap before leaving to pick up wifey.

Feeling the itch to get some action in, I kissed Rebecca good night around 10 pm and headed off to GVR to get my fix. I was a bit tired since I am getting up at 6:30 each morning to take Rebecca to work so I didn't plan on playing long. one hour into the session I was stuck a benji and figured my plan went out the window. I go about things all wrong when it comes to playing poker. I play my longest sessions when stuck and my shortest sessions when I'm killing it. I plan on changing that but there is a part of me that hates losing so much that I'll sit there in a bad mood and curse my luck each time I get drawn out on or make a mistake. Fortunately this time after buying another 40 white I started to make some hands and my raises were starting to control the table the way I wanted them to. the calling stations called and the semi-loose/passive players got out of my way leaving me free to pick on certain players at the table. my target for the night was a loose/aggressive player who went on a tear just before I sat down. he got colored up after about an hour of me sitting down so he had three $100 stacks of red to go with about 100 in white. I was able to get my fair share of his stack before I left, at which point he was down to about $125. in the beginning, I let him run me over in some small pots. I had position on him (I was seated two to his left) so after he got comfortable pushing me out of pots I started playing back at him when the pots got big. he liked to bluff a lot as well, so on my medium strength hands I would check and call the river. One time he straight mucked and I didn't even need to show my hand which I loved because now all the other players at the table have no clue what I had (in this case AQ0 with a Q high flop and a K on the turn. the villain would play any two and he played back at me on the turn, so I checked the river to him and called him down figuring I had a great shot at being best, plus the pot was big and offering me more than enough to call him with second pair, top kicker.) wish I wasn't so tired, I would have stayed and played longer. my confidence is back and it doesn't matter if I get stuck early or get up early, I am getting used to the swings and they don't really affect my play as much. I need to get to the point where they don't affect me at all. I am hoping that the increased confidence and experience that will come with building a bankroll will ease the stress of the roller coaster rides involved with playing for a living. I am severely undercapitalized right now so that's why I am so cautious right now with how I am playing. I am not optimizing my profit potential but that also means less volatility in my bankroll. I am grinding it out playing conservatively, but once I get the knot up to $1,000 I will start to open up my play a bit more and experiment to see what I can improve upon in my game. My style right now is to play tight/aggressive when I can, but to play in limped pots from the back with suited connectors and big suited hands like Axs and Kxs. I am working on my observation skills so that I can use position much better down the road. I would like to start raising with almost any two cards on the button when it is folded around to me and practice outplaying the blinds should the call. my hand reading skills and bluff catching are getting better, but I have a long way to go before I can even be considered as a skilled player in these aspects of the game. To sum it up, the table tonight was very loose/passive for the most part. the game was much tigheter at Red Rock and GVR the first time. Goes to show how much time of day affects the game. these were players that to me were looking to blow off some steam and get some action in. I think I am going to stick to the day time crowd for now until I get a bit of cushion in my 'roll and then transition into playing nights where the variance will be higher but overall the profit potential will be much more. My buddy Chuck thinks I should grind my knot up to a G and then start to take on the no limit games. I agree with him that there is more money to be made there but I still need to sharpen my no limit skills. I may try to play on the strip at Hooters or Excalibur where the buy ins are minimal and the chance of running into truly skilled players is nearly non-existant. I know, I know those casinos aren't necessarily the hotbed of poker action. Never-the-less, money in your bankroll doesn't care where it came from since it all spends the same. I'll might have to suck it up for a while until my game is sharp at no limit before I can even attempt to tackle an ordinary $300 max buy in game. I feel like a pansy saying that, but I need to make sure I'm showing a profit and taking care of my bankroll so that I have some positive figures to show to the boss. after that, then I can start to venture out into the bold new world of las vegas poker.

Till tomorrow (when I should be playing at GVR around mid morning) here are tonight's figures:
Hours Played this session: 2.67
Take: $58
$ Per Hour: $21.72

Month to Date: $41
Year to Date: $41
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $1.22
Total Bankroll: $658

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Hate the Sunset Station Game - Moving Onto Bigger and Better Things - Days 7 & 8

I think the title says it all, but let me rehash just in case you forget the different structure at Sunset compared to the traditional structures at Green Valley Ranch as well as Red Rock (all Station Casino properties mind you.) Sunset's game is a $4/$8 limit hold'em game with a 1/2 kill for a winner of two pots in a row. OK, so far so good. However, their opening blind structure is $1 for the small blind and $2 for the big blind. In essence, it turns the game into a $2/$4 for the preflop betting round. plus, the 1/2 kill blind posted is only $3 instead of $6. This structure makes for tough time preflop isolating players, since pretty much every player at Sunset is a calling station. However, I have had much greater success playing at GVR (my first session out here) and at Red Rock (where I played today which I will get to shortly.) to sum up the type of player that frequent's Sunset, I got into a an argument with a lady who was on the button and complained the the UTG player was raising too much. she mucked her hand as did I and then she states to no one in particular that "I had suited connectors. how are we supposed to win the bad beat jackpot if we can't see flops?" a little background info is required here. Station Casino properties have a property wide bad beat jackpot which as of today is over $233,000. the qualifying hands at the time of this lady's rant were quad 6's or better beaten. I guess she was expecting to flop a straight flush and have someone either make a higher one or have someone go runner, runner to quads with a pocket pair. in any event, since she made the comment to the table and I was sitting at the table, I piped up and told her that the raiser can do whatever he likes with his hand. he earned his money and he is allowed to play his cards however he sees fit. In defense of the raiser (also a calling station when he wasn't getting beaten silly by the deck,) he had picked up pocket AA for the third time in the one hour he had been at the table. I turned to the lady who was pissing and moaning and went on to tell her that she is free to ask the floor for a table change since no one was requiring her to play in this game and furthermore that if she wanted to hit a jackpot she should go play a slot machine. That damn bad beat jackpot rake costs me a dollar per pot. if I win 60 raked pots a week, that is $60 in profit being taken away from my bottom line or about a tank and a third of gas. It pisses me off even more to know that donkeys like that have been sitting at my tables all week at Sunset and I still couldn't get back in the black and start building my bankroll. What a week. Anyway, I got stuck really early in this session and it looked like I was going to piss away another rack like the day before, but I managed to flop an open ended straight with 24o and a flop of 3-5-j with two clubs and a family pot. of course i'm up front so I check it and luckily for me the guy to my left bets it and the table calls around to me just like well trained calling stations do. I know I'm up against a club draw somewhere but with 6 outs to the second nut I close the betting getting about a million to one on my call. the turn brings my gin card, the 6 diamonds which makes a rainbow so luckily no backdoor flush draws to contend with but still the clubs. so I bet out because if I don't with my luck it will get checked around and I will have given a free card to beat me. I get called in a million spots like normal (luckily this portion of the game play's like a traditional $4/$8 so the donkeys are now paying me off at an acceptable rate.) the river brought a non club J and I was in the money. again I bet and got called by most the players and won a handsome pot. when I left to pick up wifey I was only in the red $22. It felt like a win and I commented to wifey later that night that I think I've turned the corner or bounced off the bottom so to speak and was psyched to get back in the action tomorrow.

Today is tomorrow so we pick up the story with me driving my car in the direction of Sunset. But I get to thinking about how much I despise the structure of the game and decide I want to play at Red Rock. Being a Station property my time there will be added to the hours I've already accumulated at Sunset and GVR so I pull over, go to my favorites on my Garmin GPS and find Red Rock. 15 seconds later my directions are mapped out and I'm on my way. the trip took about 25 minutes which is not bad at all since I am used to the hour commute from my home town in Jersey to A.C. It actually reminded me a lot of the rides I used to make to A.C. in that I had ample time to reiterate to myself what topics I wanted to focus on today. each night before I go to bed I read and study. right now I am rehashing Gary Carson's "The Complete Book of Hold'em Poker" and I am also studying the lectures of Mike Caro found on his website, Mike Caro's University of Poker, Gaming, & Life (
Here are some of the notes I scribbled down and took with me so that I could peek at them periodically while playing to remind myself to stay focused:

1. pay attention to tendencies of players after the flop.
2. keep counting the pot to determine pot odds. compare odds to how opponents are playing, especially when there is a showdown and the cards have been revealed.
3. watch how opponents breath during critical portions of hands.
4. watch hands when someone bets, look for something unnatural or out of the ordinary
5. look for acting jobs.
6. look for opportunities to change seats to get position on certain players or change games if more than one game is going and the other game appears to be more appealing.

OK, so you can start to sense that I am serious about this poker stuff. and it's a good thing because I had a great table today full of different types of players that really tested my abilities for the first time in about a week (the GVR game was about the same as today's.) I started off by folding all of my hands for the first orbit. It's amazing how much one orbit can tell you about the players. so on the second orbit I pick up QQ in middle position and a kid in the 2 hole raised. he had raised a couple pots in the first orbit and I got the sense he didn't fully understand hand values. I reraised to isolate but the calling station in the big blind decided her hand was worth two more bets. World Poker Tour kid smoothe called me and we had three to the flop where I spiked top set (nice!!) the kid checked to me and I bet out, asian calling station lady calls me, and WPT kid comes along as well. a K comes on the turn and again it is checked to me. I bet out and the calling station calls, and surpising the kid folds (must have been JJ or or something to that effect that he was holding.) a blank comes on the river and I fire one last time and, you guessed it, the calling station called. she proudly turns over her pair of kings with a 7 kicker with no match of suits and I shrug and show her my three prom dates and she looked surprised. I guess she is used to drawing out on players that 3 bet her preflop??? so, the rest of the time she was there I would look to isolate her in middle position after she had limped in and it was folded around to me. If I had a medium strength hand I would raise. I had a very tight/aggressive style that was getting too much respect at the table so I figured I would take advantage of it. I raised preflop sometime before this hand and got no callers so I decided to show my two Kings. I figured I would exploit the ultra solid image that the cards were giving me so that I could steal later which I did on a couple occasions where I would raise from middle position, miss the flop, and paint would come on the turn and I would fire again and take it down. I'm a much better player with this image than when I pick up a lot of playable hands early, lose with them, and look like a loose/aggressive player. I have not managed to make that table image work for me yet. Going into the second hour I was up about $60 and got two of the more aggressive players at the table to give me $40 each from their stacks. On one hand, I had AJs and the flop came down A-A-6. I played it fast hoping that my opponent who had been raising every flop bet would go ahead and play back at me. he did and I reraised hoping he had a weak A. he called and I bet the turn when I Q fell and again he called. a blank fell on the river and I checked it to him because he looked like he was itching to bet and I started to get the sinking feeling he might have a bigger A (after all he was aware of my tight/aggressive table image.) I also thought he was capable of bluffing when I showed weakness. He fired, I called, and he said "you got me." that I did, and a nice pot as well. the last significant hand came when a young gun who had been raising his button about 50% of the time when it was limped around to him raised in just such a spot. Only I was one of the limpers with KQo. there were two callers in front of me and I had been raising quite a few pots so I decided to change gears and just call to see what developed. everyone called the raise and we went 4 to the flop which came King high. it was checked around to me and I rapped the table as well knowing full well the young gun would fire (probably with nothing but position) and I would check raise him and whoever else decided to call his bet. only one player called and then I raised. to my surprise he re-raised and the guy between us dumped his hand. I thought about it for a moment and then decided to smoothe call. now I wasn't sure if I was best. Maybe he had raised for value with a small pair and hit a set. An Ace fell on the turn which I didn't like too much and the young gun surprised me again by taking a free card. the river was harmless and I checked again. I figured either the A beat me, he outflopped me, or I was ahead and I was going to induce a bluff out of him. He was a pretty smart player though and knew that my check raise on the flop was not just air. He checked behind me and said I missed. I showed him the KQ and took down a healthy pot. Evidently he had picked up a flush draw on the flop and had raised with suited connectors. I gotta say, I liked his style. he was unpredictable and aggressive. I would have never three bet with a flush draw on the flop though I might have raised with suited connectors now and then on the button. He disguised his draw so well that I would not have been able to put him on it should it have hit. The free card he took on the turn in retrospect was the key peice of info I misinterpretted. Here's to you young gun, you taught me something knew today and I am greatly appreciative.

Here are the figures for the past two days. Let's hope things are on the up and up:

(5/19 - Sunset Station)
Hours Played this session: 3.75
Gave: $22
$ Per Hour: -$5.87

Month to Date: -$138
Year to Date: -$138
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$4.76
Total Bankroll: $479

(5/20 - Red Rock)
Hours Played This Session: 2
Take: $121
$ Per Hour: $60.50

Month to Date: -$17
Year to Date: -$17
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$0.55
Total Bankroll: $600

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm Playing Like Ryan Howard - Days 4, 5, & 6

Over the last 3 sessions things just haven't been going right for me. I'll put together a short run and build my stack, only to get cold decked, out-drawn, and counterfeited. I feel like I'm sure Ryan Howard is feeling this season. He is sure of himself but the results just aren't there to back it up. However, I'm not going to bore you with bad beat stories and the other donkified plays my opponents have been throwing at me lately. Instead, I'm going to keep this positive as I always will whether I play myself down to the felt or I run up my bankroll and move up in stakes. Negativity has no place in one's mind who has a burning desire to be successful. The way I see, I can go on believing that I am a good player and continue to attempt to implement the plays I've learned through experience and studying the major poker authors' works and if I do turn things around and build my bankroll up we can look back in retrospect and say that it was my determination and fortitude that got me there. If I go broke, well we can say that it was a pipe dream and that I should have known better. Either way, having a positive outlook will only help to increase my chances at success. I read an author once wrote that everything we tell ourselves about the future is a lie. It's a lie because the future has not happened yet and therefore we have no factual basis for the things we tell ourselves about it. With that said, he went on to write, why not tell ourselves positive lies about the future? This way, we start to create self fulfilling prophecies about it and a pattern of success. I think that type of thinking carries a lot of weight and I subscribe to it. just remind me at the table when I am getting my top pair top kicker slaughtered by the guy who decided to call two or three bets cold preflop with his baby pair and hit his 8-1 set on the flop to beat me. Or the other guy who flopped two pair with his Axo while again I am holding the dominant preflop hand. Variance will work itself out, but the short term can really suck sometimes. With all that said and as bad as I felt when I left the game stuck $140 to a bunch of donkeys, I am only down $116 since moving out here. All in all, not a really deep hole to dig myself out of. It's just tough explaining to the missus who I feel like I am playing pretty well for the most part yet I don't have any benjis to show her to prove it.

Ok, here are the figures for the past 3 sessions. Read them and weep with me:

Hours Played This Session: 5
Gave: $8
per hour: -$25.26

Month to Date: -$31
Year to Date: -$31
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$1.91
Total Bankroll: $586

Hours Played This Session: 5
Take: $55
$ Per Hour: $11.00

Month to Date: $24
Year to Date: $24
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $1.13
Total Bankroll: $641

Hours Played this session: 4
Gave: $140
$ Per Hour: -$35

Month to Date: -$116
Year to Date: -$116
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$4.59
Total Bankroll: $501

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

..And She Was Right - Day 3

Today's session did not go as planned. I arrived at Sunset Station around 11 and was looking forward to playing a nice 5 hour session before picking up wifey. And it started off the way a session against a fish tank should start. after the second hand I was up $20 after raising with top pair after the flop (ATs) with the first player betting out. I got called by the player behind me and the original bettor folded. I then bet the turn and got called. seemed fishy so I checked the river and after showing my top pair he flipped over his flush draw. I was a pig in shit. I was playing with guys that did not know how to throw away hands when facing two bets with draws that were not to the nuts. I thought to myself, now this is how it's supposed to be. average one decent pot or so an hour, protect my chips the rest of the time, and average a cool $20 per hour and make all my friends at home jealous. well, the poker gods know how to read minds and they also know how to tell jokes. evidently the joke was on me for the rest of the session as I did not pick up a single premium hand. the table was very passive but every time I picked up suited connectors in position, of course it was raised and I had to throw it away. I picked up suited aces in position and of course the flop would come all of one suit which was not mine. hell, I even limped with dueces, saw a flop that was checked around, hit my duece on the turn which made a three flush. I took down the pot but it was one of those sessions where nothing comes easy. I felt like Daniel Negraneu on high stakes poker season two where he would flop a hand (most times the nuts) and get drawn out on by the river. It reminded me of a session I played at Borgata where I was sitting 3/6 with a bunch of donkeys and still managed to lose $248 that day. having gone through that and bouncing back to still show good profits has given me the experience and where-with-all to see this as a day of variance and just running bad. I didn't think I played poorly, but in limit hold'em with 4 - 6 to the flop you have to have a hand or a profitable draw to proceed. didn't get any of those today. Just to keep things in perspective, if I go on a tear one day and break everyone at the table, I will have to keep in mind that I am not that good either and variance was in my favor on that particular occassion. hopefully that day will come and I can reference this post at that time. In the mean time, I am looking forward to playing again tomorrow and realing in the fish as opposed to getting fried by them.

Even as I watched my stack get scorched over the roughly five hours I played, I couldn't help but think how much I love playing. two of the biggest fish at my table raked in over $125 each during my session. One of them was our champ from yesterday that gave away a couple racks and from what I was told gave away about five racks the day before. Turns out he is local. And that's what keeps 'em coming back and that's what keeps me playing against them. they will think back to days like this, tell themselves they are good players who are just unlucky at times while I'll be stacking their chips more than they will be stacking mine. God I love poker! till next time, here are my abissmal figures for today:

Hours Played This Session: 4.75
Gave: $120
$ per hour: -$25.26

Month to Date: -$23
Year to Date: -$23
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$2.04
Total Bankroll: $594

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mama Said There'd Be Days... - Day 2

The Green Valley Ranch is one of the two flagship properties of Station Casinos. It was their best property up until Red Rock opened about 2 years ago out in the Western Vegas suburb of Summerlin. Station owns a bunch of locals casinos that are dispersed throughout the valley. Sunset Station is about 4 miles away from my apartment in the opposite direction of GVR. Last time wifey and I were there I saw 4/8 limit games going at very early hours. This is a good thing for me since I have the middle of my day wide open while my better half is actually holding down a real job. So I ran on down to Sunset to check out the action there. Sunset is not a high end property like GVR so I figured the crowd would be a bit different and that assumption was correct. What I did not account for was the that the structure of the 4/8 with 1/2 kill game would be different. I assumed there was only one way to structure a limit game (not speaking of spread limit) and furthermore since this property was owned by Station I expected the same game, kinda like getting a Big Mac in Jersey, a Big Mac in Vegas, or a Big Mac in Paris, France - it's about consistency and knowing what to expect. In any event, the structure is very bizarre in that preflop the game plays very much like 2/4 which I despise. The blinds are only half of what they should be, in this case 1/2 and not the 2/4 that I've come to expect. In essence, a bunch of people limp in in hopes of catching a hand. After the flop, the games plays like a traditional 4/8 game with flop bets of $4 and turn and river bets of $8. The only thing I like about the game is that sometimes the pot does not offer plays the correct price to draw since the flop bets are double the amount of money put in preflop (unless there is a raise preflop which would be in $4 increments - hence a raise costs $6 preflop instead of $8.) For example, with 4 limpers the pot contains $8. If the first player to act would bet out, he would be laying a price of 3 - 1 for callers behind him. maybe close enough for a flush draw to the nuts with the implied odds provided there are no raises behind him, but definitely the wrong price for a straight draw (unless of course the straight draw is in last position and all players call the flop bet.)

Ok, enough with the tuturiol. After 30 minutes in the game I could tell I was a big favorite and provided I didn't take too many unfortunate beats I figured I could grind out between $15 - $20 an hour in this game. The locals are the types that like to play any A in any position. You know the type, it's a typical low limit crowd. Everyone limps, they only raise with super premiums, and they are pretty easy to read for the most part. On top of it, there was an out of towner that the regular player Eddie sitting to my left said had blown through $500 in this game yesterday. About 2 hours in to the game, I took note that he had been felted twice donating another $200 of which I was about to get about $50. I was cruising when I picked up QQ in the cut off. A couple limpers in front of me so I raised and got a call from the BB as well as the limpers. all unders on the flop and only slightly coordinated with a rainbow to boot. of course checked around to me so I bet it and the BB calls while the others fold. a T comes off on the turn and the BB checks to me. again I fire and he plays back at me with a check/raise. I thought about 3 betting because this guy was actually against the grain of the rest of the table and would raise a lot preflop with marginal hands. but having position, i opted to flat call and see how he would act on the river. I thought possibly he had a hand like AT and figured I was betting air with something like AK or AQ. of course, the thought of a set flashed in my mind as well since everyone at the table knew at this point that I was the tightest there. in any event, a blank falls on the river and he bets out. I call with my two ladies and he shows me a set of T's. good to know I had him drawing to two outs, though it cost me 3 big bets on the turn and river to find out. in the long run I make a killing in that spot, but today was the short run and we know how that goes. with one orbit to go I was getting ready to leave since I wanted to grab a bite to eat and then had to go play taxi driver for wifey. any time I am ready to leave I should just up and do so. instead, I made some weak calls against players that would not bet into me unless they had a better than marginal hand. I called them down because I did the math and I'm getting laid better than 5-1 and I didn't think I was that much of a dog with the boards that were shown and the way the betting had gone. so I gave back my $30 profit or an hourly rate of $6 but I think I stumbled upon something very valuable. The reason the betting wen the way it did in those hands was because my opponents were nervous about my holding and only committed minimal chips instead of pushing their egdges the way I try to do. So, if that trend continues, I will be losing the least hopefully on my marginal holdings and hopefully getting decent value (though not maximum value due to my tight image) on my better hands. Sounds like a formula for success.

Here's today's numbers for you:

Hours Played This Session: 5
Take: $0
$ per hour: $0.00

Month to Date: $97
Year to Date: $97

Hourly Rate Year to Date: $14.92
Total Bankroll: $714

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baby Steps - Day 1

So I'm living the dream, or that's what I've told myself since moving out to Vegas and away from the friends and family I love so much and miss terribly back in Southern New Jersey. It's only been about 4 weeks but since I've been waiting on my funds from the IRS to show up it's been a lot of reading to pass the time. And what better material to read then study guides that will help me with my newly chosen (read: illadvised) career of professional card player. So during the past month or so, I have broken up my time between unpacking and reassembling my belongings shipped from Jersey by reading two books on no limit hold'em (Sklansky/Miller's No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice and Brunson's No Limit chapter in Super/System 2.) So armed with the knowledge contained in those two publications and my new bankroll courteous of Uncle Sam returning to me what he accidentally overdrafted from my federal income taxes I set off to cut my teeth and prove to the world (ok just my friends who are living vicariously through me) that I am up to the challenge. Going out to brave a scary new world of gambling for a living, I chickened out and reverted directly back to my bread and butter - low limit hold'em.

The nice thing about living in Vegas (actually the Green Valley district of Henderson) is that there are two things required for decent poker games. They are people with time and people with money. Throw in a gaming friendly political environment for the state and you have a card player's paradise (the weather's not so bad either.) So today I worked up the nerve to actually drive my ass over to Green Valley Ranch (, my local casino no more than 2 miles from my place, and sit down in a newly opened 4/8 with 1/2 kill limit game. I only had two hours to kill before I had to go pick up my girlfriend from her job so I figured I couldn't get hurt too badly if my game was rusty or the competition was better than I remembered facing in Atlantic City. Fortunately, the games do not appear to be any tougher out here at least judging from this session and the few I've played on past trips to Vegas. I played the tight/aggressive style that I've always employed and was very pleased with the results during this 90 minute feeling out session. I had never played with a kill before so I had to "act like I know" what the hell was going on with the green button that was getting passed around and then flipped to red once a villain won two pots back to back. Gotta admit, I really like the kill style of play. At GVR, the half kill turns the game into 6/12 for one hand which I played a bunch of at Borgata back in AC. You can really make some money during these kill pots since many of the players do not adjust to the higher stakes and continue to play their loose/passive/weak style of play. Another thing that caught me off guard was the fact that dealers and floor personnel (aka the "brush") can sit in on the game when either the room is slow or they are off duty. That would never fly in Jersey. Hell, a dealer or floor person can't even play in their own casino let alone while on the clock. Luckily, casino workers are some of the loosest and most aggressive players you can find. They actually hinder my style a bit, but when I pick up hands I love to play back at them. That's actually how I made the majority of my earn for this session. The girl who seated me, Christina, happened to be on the button in my game and raised 2 limpers. I was in the small blind with AQo and took a flop. The big blind folded and the limpers do what limpers do, they called. The flop was rags and we all checked to the raiser. She bet, I felt I had a bigger hand than she did and decided to take a card off. One limper came along for the ride. An A fell on the turn and I checked it again, this time with the intention of check/raising brush girl when she fired again. The limper checked and right on queue she did not disappoint me. I took it up a unit, the limper got out of my way and I was almost certain she was going to my fold. After some thought she decided to see the river. Another inconsequential card fell and I bet. She made what I can only think was a crying call with something like AJ and I scooped a very nice pot. After that, I just grinded away a bit more using my tight/solid image to pick up some pots and then I had to go pick up wifey since she is the bread winner of the household and I couldn't keep her waiting.

so, the figures for day 1 look like:
(expect to see these at the bottom of each posting - it'll give you the skinny on how I'm doing as a "pro" and the variance involved with playing every day.)

Hours Played This Session: 1.5
Take: $97
$ per hour: $64.67

Month to date: $97
Year to date: $97
Hourly Rate Year to Date: $64.67
Total bankroll: $714

P.S. ~ the total bankroll is what I was up in live cash game play from games in Jersey prior to moving. All sessions are tracked on StatKing to ensure accuracy in my record keeping and analysis of my results. if you're serious about your game, I highly recommend it.