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 http://www.tommyangelo.com. 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 Dictionary.com 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

Monday, August 3, 2009

Thought Of The Week 8/1 - 8/7: Living Right


When you do something for a living like play poker, it opens up many avenues for you in your spare time since you are your own boss. Like yesterday, instead of playing on Sunday during the football offseason (something I should be doing since I won't be playing Sundays once the NFL kicks off) I decided to head down to the M Resort, sit at their draft beer bar, and drink while watching the Phils and playing video poker. Fortunately I won a little cash while drinking for free and unfortunately the Phils lost. However, I know to video poker to be a leak. It's something I should only partake in after I have consistently proved I can win money week in week out playing hold'em. I knew this was not "living right" and it's something I am going to be working on from this point forward. Rebecca deserves better from me. Getting tuned up once in a while is ok, doing it on a frequent basis like I have been for quite a while is not. In the following I am going to detail the things I feel like I should be doing off the felt so that when I do sit down and go to war everything else in my life has been taken care of. I keep telling myself I am capable of living the life of my dreams, meaning achieving success at poker while getting in great shape and maintaining an awesome relationship. I have 3 Cantonese symbols on my right lat which are supposed to represent my mantra on life. They state desire, devotion, and discipline. Desire represents that thirst you can't quench. It used to be for me becoming the best possible soccer player I could be. I had this mindset that if I wasn't training, someone else was, and when we met on the field he would get the better of me. So I trained constantly. In the offseason in high school, I would come home, change, and head directly outside to train with the ball until my mother would call me in for dinner. Nowadays, poker has taken over, though lately I have not been training the way I did when I was working on my soccer skills. Every morning that I wake up I need to be reading chapters in books or articles and forums on the internet to help me to improve my game each day. If I do that, I know I will be able to consistently beat the tourists for a real profit and I will be able to beat the locals a majority of the time as well. This leads me into devotion. Devotion to me means each action I take has to point me in the direction of success. So I need to keep reading and taking notes. I need to discuss hands with my friends from back home and the compatriots I am meeting out here who are also trying to do this for a living. Devotion is the burning desire in action. Finally, discipline means keeping on that path and not going astray. Discipline is what I have been lacking for quite some time now. It also means playing enough hours to make a living, playing at the right times (read: a night,) and playing in good games and getting out of bad ones so that I maximize the time I have available to me.

Off the felt there are many things I want to accomplish to better my quality of life.
  • First, I need to quit boozing. Period. It's ruining my health. Once I put the bottle down, I need to pick the weights up and start hitting the gym on a regularly scheduled basis. As my health improves, I know my stamina will increase giving me an edge in late night sessions when others' concentration will start to slack. Hand in hand with this is eating right. Right now I eat like shit. This needs to change. I will start eating lean meats and fresh veggies.

  • I need to go to church every Sunday morning. Whether or not I believe in God has yet to be determined. However, I do enjoy the lessons and teachings of the Bible. I do not necessarily agree with the Catholic Church's societal views. However, I can mentally separate the two. Besides, going to church makes me feel good and I know somewhere my grandfather is watching me and it will make him proud as well.

  • I need to complete my final project for my master's degree. This is something I am going to strive to do this week. No more putting it off. No more when I speak to my folks will I have to skirt the issue. Completing this program and graduating with honors will make my parents so proud. Even if I am discouraged with working in sports after my experience with the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball team, completing this degree to the best of my ability and graduating with honors is something no one can take from me. I want that piece of paper on my wall.
I think this is a good start to getting back on the right track. I will focus on these 3 things off the felt and I know by doing so everything in my life will get better. I'm going to keep in mind what I used to tell my patrons at the gym when they were working on losing weight or gaining muscle. Focus on progress, not perfection. I plan on making some progress this week. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 31, 2009

I Play So Bad

Hung over and only out of bed for 30 minutes, I started my session after getting a wake up call from wifey telling me it was 11 am and I needed to get out of bed and check out of the room. I don't even remember her leaving the hotel room earlier that morning. After using express check out I dropped my bag off at my car and went down to the poker room. For the most part everything was going smoothly and I was up about $60 or so without too much confrontation. I made one misstep and it cost me my profit for the day. I was only planning on playing the minimum of 3 hours to get my $30 bonus along with whatever winnings I could scrape together. I limped in with wired 5s from early position on the button raised it to $12. I called hoping to flop a set. The flop came down 2-9-2 with two clubs. I bet out $15 and got raised to $30. I should have guessed him for an over pair but of course I read him for something like AKs in clubs. That is a real specific read and obviously I was wrong. I moved all in thinking he was really weak and would get away from the hand. He only had $63 left in front of him and I most likely would have moved in on the turn if a club did not fall. He showed two queens and my fives did not improve and I lost the pot. I later picked up pocket aces and after making that play thought I would get action with them. I raised pre-flop and got called in one spot. I made a pot sized bet on the flop and was hoping the continued aggression would look week, like I was tilting. Instead my opponent folded. Too bad, I was hoping he would try and pick me off and I would have gotten my profit back.

The reason I say I play so bad is I should have known the opponent in the first hand mentioned probably had an over pair to be playing back at me. I just hate min raises. They seem so week to me. It's like Doyle Brunson says when he speaks about "post oak bluffs", they're gutless bets. I moved in on him because I thought he was weak. Instead, I should have looked the size of his stack. With only $63 behind and about that much already in the pot, he is going to come along and I can only beat a semi-bluff at that point. I should have gotten away from that hand. In the back of my mind I always here a voice telling me it is a weak play if you get away for a min raise when you might have the best hand. That voice also tells me others are going to play with you if fold in these spots. I should have folded anyway and if a situation came up where I was really strong and I made a pot sized bet and got min raised again, I could then come over the top. I just played the situation really poorly and of course Rebecca done her luncheon at work and was back at the casino sitting behind me. When she saw how I played the hand she just shook her head. Guess that gives her a lot of confidence about what I'm doing for a living at the moment. Oh well, it wasn't a catastrophic loss, just a really dumb one.

Hours Played This Session: 3.5
Gave: $24
$ Per Hour: -$6.86

Month to Date: -$26
Year to Date: -$149
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$2.42
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 61.58
Sessions Played Year to Date: 13
Win/Loss Record by Session: 5/7 41.67% win rate

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finally Some Action

I am writing this entry two days after completing it and much of the session has fallen from my memory. All I can remember is that this session had the most action of any during the week. Maybe that speaks to Thursdays as a day when tourists are just getting into town for a long weekend of play. Not really sure, but I will keep an eye on this to see if this becomes a trend.

There was a professional player sitting at my table who was very loose/aggressive. I'm not sure why he was sitting $1/$2 when it was obvious he played $2/$5 or higher. In any event, I got tangled with him early on after he just sat down before I realized his style of play. To make a long story short, I had top pair in aces holding AQ. The board came down 9-T-A, the turn was a blank, and the river was a ten and for some reason my gut told me he had a ten in the whole. He bet out $60 on the river and I mucked flashing my ace. He showed 9-2s. If we had played one more orbit together I would have been able to make that call on the river. I now recognize him and will be able to play better against him in the future.

In another hand I held pocket tens against his buddy who also seemed like a pro since the two were talking about a hand that came up between the loose/aggro guy and a mutual friend of theirs. I checked the 8 high flop and my opponent bet out $15. I check raised to $45 and after thinking for a minute he called. The turn brought a 9 and after studying the board I moved in. He really tanked this time and I started thinking I am looking at a wired pair bigger than mine. I had verbally announced my bet and after a couple minutes the dealer asked me to move my checks into the center of the table. As I did this, my hands started to shake a bit. I am starting to believe I have a nervous condition, though it may be a minor one. Hopefully my opponent read this as being really strong as this is the tell many players have when holding a monster. In any event, my opponent laid down his hand. As for the shaking, I will keep an eye on it but without any health insurance even if I do have a mild condition I am not sure there is anything I can do about it. I am hoping getting back into shape and drinking far less than I do no will have a positive impact on it. I will be starting back my "Thought of the Week" commentary this weekend and will be discussing the importance of doing the right things away from the table so that you feel your best when you play and what changes I'll be making to my life to start "living right."

Hours Played This Session: 4.0
Take: $99
$ Per Hour: $24.75

Month to Date: -$2
Year to Date: -$125
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$2.15
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 58.08
Sessions Played Year to Date: 12
Win/Loss Record by Session: 5/6 45.45% win rate

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Like A Young Man Coming In For A Quickie

But I do feel proud and good. Mike Caro talks about manufacturing wins, where when things are going well you cut your session short because you want to preserve a win and then when things are running bad you play long hours under the worst conditions in order to get even or a little ahead so you can quit a winner. This was not the case today. I just needed a win. Period. Anything to post since I've been running so bad lately. It's a psychological thing more so than anything else. The table I was playing at wasn't any good and I felt great leaving there a winner considering the rake is $5 max plus $1 jackpot drop on top plus the table was 80% locals grinding out there $30 bonuses. There was one donator at the table making some terrible calls, but I wasn't able to get in any hands with him and wasn't about to stick around to do so. Here are the notable hands from this short session.

The action gets limped around to me in the big blind and I look down at KQ suited in hearts. I also check and we take the flop something like 5 handed. The board comes down king high with a ten and a small card. I bet the size of the pot and get one caller. From what I've seen of this guy he has only shown premium starting hands but he did not raise pre-flop so I'm thinking maybe something like suited connectors. The turn was a blank and I bet out $25. He was again called without much hesitation. Hmmm, maybe KT suited and flopped top two? The river was also a blank and I fired out $40. With top pair and second best kicker I think checking may be too weak a play here. I'm thinking he may have a marginal hand and will probably just throw it away rather than waste $40. Instead he flat calls and I'm pretty sure I'm good. Now I put him on KJ. Instead he surprises me with AK and takes the pot with top pair, top kicker. I would have thought he would have popped me on the turn or maybe play back at me on the flop to find out where I am at and also to protect his fragile holding. By just calling he got the maximum from me. Maybe he thought he was losing the minimum if I was the one who flopped two pair or a set.

The next hand came up with I raised in late position with AQo. I got one caller, the player to my immediate right who had originally limped in. The flop came down K-A-K with two diamonds. I bet out and he called. The turn brought a third diamond. I am usually not too concerned against a single opponent when this happens until I get some bad news from them. He checked the turn, I bet the size of the pot, and he called. The river brought a fourth diamond, and with me holding the queen of diamonds, I now hold the nuts provided he does not have a boat. It would have been hard for him to have a boat being that he would have had to hold AK or or KK to have a full house or better on the flop. If he was drawing at the flush, which was not a smart idea being that I raised pre-flop and could reasonably hold AK for a flopped boat, he would have himself drawing dead even if he hit one of his outs on the turn. Still, I would expect him to have check raised me and moved in for his last $40 on the turn in the event I had a bigger diamond in my hand. He would want to charge me what he could for my redraw. Alas, he did not and when he checked the river to me I eyed his stack and bet enough to tap him. He made a crying call and I said to him if you have a boat you got me, otherwise I have the nuts. I showed him my holding with the queen of hearts and he got pissed and violently threw his hand into the muck. Hey, you played it poorly and got what you deserved. It's happened to me a million times but I'm beginning to learn from my mistakes.

At this point I get the sense this player is starting to tilt which is great since all the locals play too tight. This guy is playing this morning for his $30 a day plus his $599 monthly bonus for the 125 hours he has logged in the room. He does not like the idea of burning through a couple buy ins (someone else stacked him after me.) He got serious and bought in for a couple hundred. He proceeded to play looser and give about a hundred away when this hand came up. Under the gun he raises it to $6. I look down at wired 8s and call. The middle position player who I had lost to with my KQs also comes along and we take the flop three handed. Gin! My 8 falls on the flop along with a king and a small card. I know have middle set and I'm now praying one or both of the two are holding AK and I can win me a nice pot. UTG bets out $10 on the flop, I min raise to $20 which is a weak raise and I am hoping that one of the two come over the top. The player with position thinks for a minute and folds and UTG min raises me back. This is a really odd play, like we're playing $10/$20 limit. After a moment of thought, my spidey senses tell me he is weak, at least compared to my holding, and I move in on him. I am 99% sure he is holding AK. He would have re-raised all in with aces or at the very least made a healthy bet to protect his hand after I min raised him. He instantly calls and I turn over my 8s. With the speed he called with I first thought my read was wrong and he actually had the three wise men. But when he didn't show I was reassured my read was correct. The turn was a blank and the river surely poured salt in his wounds when an ace fell. I picked up his stack of about $100 and he decided to rebuy once again. I guess he really needed his hours. Too bad I made some weak calls later on and gave some of my hard won checks to other players, but I refuse to play too tight a game even with the locals. I need to get paid off on my good hands so by giving some action here and there I believe pays dividends down the road. They will remember the time I called down with a weak queen or king and decide to bet into me. Little do they remember that I was most likely in the blind and playing out of position. When I finally do have position on them and I am calling with a monster hand, they won't know anything about it until the pot is too big, the big bets go in, and its too late. At least that's the game plan against the local rocks. Either that or suck out on them, get them to go on tilt, and hopefully have them seek you out personally where you can punish them when you have the goods. Time will tell, but so far I am holding my own, which may not be saying much, but for a life long limit player it is giving me confidence to keep playing no limit. We'll see what happens today.

Hours Played This Session: 3.5
Take: $107
$ Per Hour: $30.57

Month to Date: -$101
Year to Date: -$224
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$4.14
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 54.08
Sessions Played Year to Date:10
Win/Loss Record by Session: 4/6 40.00% win rate

Quads, Coolers, Sets, and Suck Outs

On day two of my quest to find the softest $1/$2 no limit tables on The Strip I stumbled into Harrah's after parking at Flamingo and walking through there and The Imperial Palace looking for action. I couldn't even find The Flamingo's room (which is never a good thing) and The IP only had $2/$4 limit going at around 11:15 am. When I got to Harrah's, there were two no limit tables going along with a morning no limit tourney. This looked great to me as players that busted from the tourney might sit in the cash game, hopefully on tilt, and ready to spew chips. This did not turn out to be the case but there were a couple of weaker tourists mixed in with the locals. It turns out that Harrah's has a bunch of promotions running to reward regular players and tourists alike. The first is what is deemed "the breakfast club." Play for three hours starting your session before noon and come back the next day (or take at least an hour off and then come back) and receive $30 in cash your next session (Sunday through Thursday.) Also, if a player accumulates 125 hours in a month in the room, that player will receive $599 in cash. Doing the math, that comes out to $30 x 5 x 4 = $600 + $599 = $1,199 per month guaranteed income for making Harrah's your official place of business. As a result, it attracts the local retirees who put their hours in to get their monthly stipend along with the hopes of either winning some money or hitting one of the high hands or bad beat.

In the first orbit I picked up 7s in the big blind and the flop came down with a pair of 7s. Holy Shit I flopped the stone cold nuts!! That never happens. I check and call the flop which gets us down to heads up, we both check the turn, and I bet $12 on the river which got called. I showed the quads expecting only to pick up the pot. The room does a really poor job of letting you know all the promotions that are going on. But when I saw the dealer call for the floor for confirmation of a high hand, I was like a school boy on a Christmas morning grinnin with anticipation of what Santa had brought me. In this case, Santa was the floor man and he brought me two greenie and five reds for my $75 bonus. I'll take it.

I thought this was the proverbial corner I was turning, especially when I picked up wired aces on a jack high board against a player I had bullied out of several pots in the first hour of play. I bet $12 and he check-raised me to $30. I insta-shoved hoping to look like a kid who has watched too much WPT final table action. He immediately called and when I turned over the rockets he did not flip his cards and I knew I was good. However, when the turn paired the board with the jack I knew he had sucked out and he then turned over his J9o. I had this guy right where I wanted him. I had set it up perfectly only to have fate take that pot away from me. If you've been following my trials and tribulations it seems like a reoccuring theme for me. In my heart of hearts I know that I have not played nearly enough hours of any form of poker since deciding to do this full time to see variance even out and get a true sense of what my win rate should be (from past experience, I know I am a winning player at low limit hold'em but no limit has yet to be determined.) Even so, all the red entries in my book make it disheartening to look at. I hate it when I get in the mind set that when all the chips go in and I am way ahead, I am still expecting to get sucked out on. I really need to have a good run so that I can see if works both ways.

The odds held in my favor when I flopped a set of 6s against a calling station. I limped in early position, got a bunch of callers, the button raised it to $12 and only I called. The board came down mono-chrome in clubs but my 6 was amongst them. Knowing full when that the odds of flopping a flush when holding two of that suit is 117.8 - 1 I bet out the size of the pot and got called. I wanted to charge the maximum should my opponent be holding the trump ace. The turn brought a great card for me in the Ace of Spades. Now if my opponent was holding a hand like AK with ace of clubs he would surely call any sized bet on the turn. I moved in for $110 and he insta-called me. I thought for a second maybe he had wired aces with the trump ace to boot. Instead he turned over his AJo with the nut flush draw. The river was kind to me for once I and double through him, getting me back to about even for the session.

I picked up wired aces again against a calling station who had been feeding the table. He was into his 3rd buy in of $200 at that point and he had a nice stack in front of him. I thought to myself this is it when He called my $12 bet from late position while he was in the big blind. We took the flop heads up and it was a great flop for me. All over the place, no flush draws, no straight draws, just pure chaos. I bet the size of the pot and he called. Sweet! At this point I am planning to make a pot sized bet on the turn and push on the river. The turn pairs the board and I bet out $30 (about 2/3 of the pot) and sir-calls-alot check-raises me for his entire stack of about $100. A red flag goes up in my mind when losing calling stations bet into me or in this case play back at me with a check-raise. Instantly A-7 flashed in my mind. I felt strongly about this for a couple of reasons: First, he was the type of player to call a raise with any ace. Second, he was the type of player to call down to the river with any medium sized pair. Third, he was the type of player that would only bet out with a strong hand. Fourth, when I asked for time from the dealer he sat back in his chair. I watched his breathing which appeared to be pretty normal. Many players will hold their breath in an attempt to appear calm when making a big bluff. He also looked away like he was uninterested in my decision. Now this could be viewed as a sign of weakness since if a player is not very interested in your decision if usually means he is very interested in what you are going to do. However, with everything mulling around inside my melon, I was about 99% certain I was holding the loser and I mucked it face up. I did this for a very important reason. I wanted the players to know that I was capable of making a big lay down, but in the back of my mind I also wanted them to remember this so that they might try a similar move in a later session and I will pick them off. I only did this because of my read on this particular player in this particular hand. The board was very mean to me today with it's pairing when I didn't want it to. That thought crept into the back of my mind that someone somewhere must really want me to go broke.

That thought was reinforced when it was limped around to me on the button I raised to $15 with wired ladies. I raised to $15 because there was already $10 in the pot and I didn't want to lay too low a price for someone to come in with a suited ace or king and out flop me. I only got called by a weak/tight player to my immediate left. Early a similar situation had come up where I raised a bunch of limpers from late position, only he called, and I made a $25 bet on the flop and got him to fold while I only held ace high. This time I had the goods as the flop came down ten high. He checked to me and I made a similar sized bet. I was hoping the guy would get fed up with me and either flat me or check raise. He had a small stack of about $65 in front of him and when he moved in I was hoping he had a hand like the aforementioned suited AT and I would have to fade a five outer twice to stack him. Instead he showed me a flopped set of 8s when I called the additional $35 and I could not find one of the two remaining queens to put my own bad beat on someone for once.

my alternate title for this entry was:
Bonus Grinding - Sounds Like A Job To Me

The reason I play poker is because I didn't want a 9 - 5. However, with my recent results I think it is in my best interest to play this room for a while, take the guaranteed money, hopefully grind out some additional wages, and maybe pick up a couple high hands or even the bad beat. I sound like the local retirees I described in the opening. What has my life become?

I'd like to give a quick shout to Tyler, the computer guru from North Cackalacky. Eat and drink well my friend as long as the boss is using the company credit card. I also think I have found a compratriot in a guy named Mike who recently moved out from Long Island and is grinding away a living playing no limit. I look forward to talking about hands with him in the future as well as getting together to hang out. I don't have many friends out here so hopefully this is a sign of good things to come on this front.

A note on the figures below: My total buy in out my pocket was $240 for the session. If I don't count the $75 bonus for the quads then I left the table with $130 ($205 - $75 = $130. $240 - $130 = $110) This leaves me down $110 on the session. If you add the bonus back in it comes to a loss of $35. I need some input here because I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I feel like that is extra money that did not come from the players at the table and should not be factored into my hourly rate. On the other hand, I am paying for that jackpot with each hand I win with the $1 jackpot drop. Therefore, all the players are paying for it and it's what attracts players to the room, which in turn attracts me to the room. So for now I figured it into my hourly figures since it is not house funded. I think that will be my cut off. If I win a house funded jackpot then I will not count it into my hourly rate since the players are not providing the funding for it. Any feedback from those of you that peruse my rantings would be much appreciated.

Hours Played This Session: 7.00
Gave: $35
$ Per Hour: -$5.00

Month to Date: -$208
Year to Date: -$331
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$6.54
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 50.58
Sessions Played Year to Date:9
Win/Loss Record by Session: 3/6 33.33% win rate

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trying Something Different

So I tried switching things up a bit after talking to my good buddy Chuck. Chuck is a no limit cash game player and every time we talk he tells me I should give no limit a shot. So I took his advice today and scouted out a no limit game where I felt the competition would be weak and I could ease myself into the no limit mindset. I decided on Excalibur mainly due to the type of clientele the property attracts. No self respecting poker player who took his/her game seriously would be found here, which is precisely why I went there. Only one $1/$2 no limit game was going when I arrived around noon and I was seated in about ten minutes. The session started off very well as I poked around in late position and picked up small pot after small pot. I thought to myself this is going to be a low risk kind of game full of weak/tight players that will let me push them off pots provided I don't get too out of hand with it. I was up about a stack of red when I flopped a set of 7s on a board of 6-7-8 with a two flush in clubs in a three handed pot. The early position player checked, the middle position player bet out ten into a pot of about that size, I re-raised to $30. The early position player to my surprise called and the original raiser folded. The turn brought an off suit nine so now any ten or any five would give my opponent a straight. The early player checked and I checked behind. The river brought an off suit jack which didn't really concern me since if I was beat that card didn't change things. The early player checked and I should have just shown the hand down but my opponent was a calling station and I figured him for two pair when he did not bet the river (something like 8-7 or 8-6) and I moved in on him (he had about $70 which was the size of the pot roughly.) He instantly called and I asked him if had the ten, instead he showed me an 8-5o for top pair and the ass end of the straight draw on the flop. Not only did the guy call my re-raise of $30 cold on that board, there was the distinct possibility that the original raiser could have bumped it up again and that I would come along or push. The way the hand played out, I guess I could have only been called with a straight there, but I also figured my play could have looked like a busted flush draw trying to pick up the pot on the end. Only against a thinking player should I have made that play. Against a calling station I should try that play because he is incapable of throwing away a second best hand even for all his chips. Other than that hand, there were only a couple other hands worth speaking of.

The first interesting spot that came up was when a weak/tight player min-raised UTG and I was next to act. I looked down at queens and made it $15 to go. It was folded back around to the UTG and he min-raised me again to $30. Right then I knew I was beat but I would have called him with any pair knowing full when if I flopped a set on a board without an ace I would felt him. The flop came down with three cards all lower than my pair. UTG moved in for $75 and I flashed my queens as I mucked them. He showed me his aces and I rapped the table knowing full well he had won the battle but I would win the war with this guy should be tangle again. Alas, that never happened.

The other situation arose when I found queens again in late-middle position. Folded around to me I made a standard raise of $8, the short stack to my left moved in for $24, the big blind called. I also called and we took the flop three handed with one all in. The flop came down 9 high and the big blind shoved for about $75. I instantly called as I had him on jacks since he did not re-raise pre-flop like I figured he might with a pair bigger than my own. He turned over his kings and I did not suck out with queens.

Not such a good start to my attempt at no limit hold'em. I feel like I need to brush up each morning reading some good articles on no limit play. My spidey senses are just a bit off since I am used to limit play where I pretty much know where I stand in the way the bets and raises are made. Still, I feel like I could become a very big favorite in the long run if I keep at no limit and search out the soft games with people looking to have a good time and free drinks rather than those looking to make a score to pay their bills.

Hours Played This Session: 6.58
Gave: $137
$ Per Hour: -$20.82

Month to Date: -$173
Year to Date: -$296
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$6.79
Total Hours Played Year to Date:43.58
Sessions Played Year to Date:8
Win/Loss Record by Session: 3/5 37.50%

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Thought It Was Going To Be My Day...

...but it wasn't. I had stretches where I got hit over the head with the deck and other periods where I would just fold for several hours straight. An annoying session overall as the lineup at the table was great as usual. I think I have to be prepared to change gears more often as the looseness and tightness of the game ebbs and flows. I'll have to really be keen on which players are winning and losing in the session as that affects how tight or loose they play. Anyway, nothing remarkable happened this session as far as big hands go or interesting moments at the table. This is it for the post today. It's wifey's Saturday so I'll be spending the day with her. We'll need to get my car at some point. I left it at The Wynn since after I quit play for the day I started boozing and watching the US win their semifinal match in the Gold Cup while also cheering the Phils on to victory against the Cubbies.

Hours Played This Session: 6
Gave: $54
$ Per Hour: -$12.00

Month to Date: -$36.00
Year to Date: -$159
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$4.30
Total Hours Played Year to Date:37.00
Sessions Played Year to Date:8
Win/Loss Record by Session: 3/4 42.85%

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hitting Some Flops

Had a decent day yesterday, would have been better if my table had not broken. Really odd that we were the only $4/$8 game going at around 7 pm so there was no other table to move to or no list to get put on. Luck (read: variance) was just starting to swing in my favor. I'll briefly describe the two interesting hands where I came out the victor.

In the cut off seat, only a loose-passive Asian player called from early position. I raised with pocked 9s and the big blind came along. The flop comes down A-9-3 which is a gin flop for my hand since the most likely holding of the loose-passive player is a weak Ace. The flop is checked to me and I bet out. The big blind folds and weak player calls. Now I definitely have him on an Ace and he is the type to see the hand all the way through. The turn brings a blank, checked to me, fire a bet, and get called again. The river pairs the board with an Ace. He checks, I bet, and he check-raises. I trust my initial read and think he believes his trip Aces are good. I reraise him making it $24 to and $8 back to him. He insta-calls and announces he has a full house. My first thought is "oh shit he flopped two pair with Ace-trey and filled up on the river." I flip over my hand to show 9s full of Aces and he shows 3s full of Aces for the smaller boat. I rake in a nice pot. My read was off here but I gained valuable information on this opponent who plays regularly. He will almost always slow play a monster hand so now I know a couple of things about him for future use: 1) If he is betting out on the flop and turn he probably has a hand but not a monster, and 2) If he check-raises me on the river I can lay down a decent hand with a clear conscience. He does not seem to be the type of player to be able to make a move, nor should he playing at this level where opponents will not throw a hand away to save a bet even though they are 99% sure they are beat.

The second hand came about a half hour later. This time it is folded to me again in the cut off and I look down at T9s in diamonds. I raise, the button folds, the small blind comes along (an old man in a suit and wrap around shades named Bill who appears to be a regular) and my Asian buddy from the previous hand I mentioned decides he doesn't want to tangle with me and folds his big blind (the first time I saw him do this in the 3 sessions I've played with him thus far - also good info if he remembers who I am the next time we play together.) The flop comes down 6-7-8 with two clubs. Fake Oakleys checks to me and I bet, he calls and the turn brings a Jack. I still have the nuts and it is checked to me again. I bet and he calls. The river brings a 4 and no club which is such a delightful card because if he has a 5 he has made the ass end of the straight and may even raise me since I raised pre-flop indicating a possible big hand like pocket Tens - Aces, hell he even beats a set in this spot. He checks, I bet and he calls. I announce I flopped the nuts and before I could turn over my hand the guys makes a disbelieving sound and gives me the look of "how could you flop the nuts if you raised pre-flop." I show him the T9s and he mucks showing me only his 9 for a one card open ended straight. I can only imagine one of two hands he held here. Either J9 for a turned top pair or pocket 9s. He was not the type to call raises even out of the small blind so originally I thought is was J9 but the more I think about it he must have had wired 9s instead and he put me on an unimproved big Ace the whole way.

Here's the book keeping for the session:

Hours Played This Session:4.5
Take: $54
$ Per Hour: $12.00

Month to Date: $18
Year to Date: -$105
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$3.39
Total Hours Played Year to Date:31.00
Sessions Played Year to Date:6
Win/Loss Record by Session: 3/3 50.00%

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Wynn Lose Situation

The second session at The Wynn proved to be just one of those days where nothing seems to go right. The table was still great. When I sat down the first four pots had 6 players in them. I knew with this kind of table it pays to play hands that can flop big hands and big draws from late position. I've taken poker author and all around good guy Tommy Angelo's advice and decided that there are really only two positions outside of the blinds. There is late position which entails the button, the cut off, and the hijack seats and then there is early position consisting of the rest of the seats. He calls the late position seats his bread and butter where he makes the majority of his profit playing. Tommy has been playing both limit and no-limit professionally for over 20 years and he has all sorts of gems of insight. This one is definitely worth its weight in chips. Only, on the day, it didn't matter. I did not win a pot in the first two hours of play (contrast that to the first two years of yesterday's session.) I won't bore you with the details of a truly boring session. However, there was a truly humorous situation that came up.

It was folded around to an old lady on oxygen who spoke Spanish as her first language in middle position. She was not a rock especially, but you knew if she raised pre-flop she had a premium starting hand. First in, she limped so I figured her range was pretty wide. It is then folded around to me on the button I look down at KQ0. I raise, the small blind folds, the big blind comes along as does grandma. The flop comes down A-K-A. I'm not sure what to make of this flop as I am not worried about the big blind by the old lady is known to play any Ace. The big blind checks, the old lady checks, and I bet out because I hate missing bets and just would rather take the pot down right now. The big blind folds and the old lady check-raises. I started cracking up and mucked my hand. The was the first time I've ever been check-raised by anyone over the age of 80, let alone an elderly woman with oxygen tubes up her nose. I knew at that point that I was the butt of the poker gods jokes for this session.

At my low point I was down roughly $230. A regulary to my immediate right named Bob who I used to play with at Green Valley has taken a liking to me for some reason and we got to talking about being stuck. He said his stop-loss limit is $200. I told him I was stuck more than that at the moment and he recommended I call it quits for the day. I replied to him that as long as the game was good I couldn't justify leaving. I mean, if I am going to come back tomorrow and play what difference does it make. After all, there is a possibility that the line up tomorrow won't be as good, though I highly doubt it. The games are always good at this limit. My feeling is as long as I am playing good poker and not feeling the ill effects emotionally of bad beats and cold decks that I should continue playing. And on this session, I felt remarkably calm. In fact, being stuck really didn't bother me much at all. I know this has everything to do with being properly bankrolled. When you are not worried about going broke, you have the confidence to keep playing your A game even when the chips are down.

To put this into perspective, I flopped a set of 8s while being first to act against two opponents. I check it and it gets bet to my immediate left and called by the late player. I also call and we go to the turn. I checked again and the middle position once again fired. The late player called and I check-raised them both, getting double bets from each of them. I bet out on the river, the middle player folded and the late player raised. Fifth street put a possible straight on board and I made the crying call knowing all too well that I was most likely looking at it. Not to be disappointed my opponent showed me that he hit his gutshot and a massive pot went his way. A couple minutes later he was called for his $1/$3 no limit game and off he went with pile of my checks. It didn't even phase me. I knew right then and there that I have what it takes emotionally to do this. A lesser player might have had that hand cracked and steamed off a bunch of chips. That's what my late grandfather would call throwing good money after bad. He also told me not to accept any wooden nickels.

Hours Played This Session:4.75
Gave: $106
$ Per Hour: -$22.32

Month to Date: -$36.00
Year to Date: -$159
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$6.00
Total Hours Played Year to Date:26.50
Sessions Played Year to Date:5
Win/Loss Record by Session: 2/3 33.33%

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Wynn Win Situation

I tried twice to find a game at South Point but all they were spreading were $1/$2 no limit and $2/$4 limit. I take so much time checking websites that review cardrooms so that I already have a good idea of what games and what types of players to expect when I arrive at a casino. Some of the sites suggested that South Point would have a $4/$8 game. This is not the case and is very disappointing as I now have to travel to the strip to play rather than just crossing the street. I guess I kind of have my own commute to work now.

There are 3 strip rooms that spread $4/$8 limit hold'em constantly. These are The Bellagio, The Venetian, and Wynn Las Vegas. The greatest thing about these rooms is $4/$8 is the lowest limit game they spread, therefore you get all the $2/$4 and $3/$6 players playing in it. They make for wild swings since they draw out so much more often on your superior hand (i.e. they do not know how to lay down a hand) but they make the pots so big that it is worthwhile to put up with the beats they provide routinely. I played at The Bellagio last year and found the room to be cramped (on the low limit side.) Bellagio does not provide any hourly comps to players. You have to be a regular there and then tip the floor to get yourself a $15 paper food comp. I find it funny that one would have to tip for a comp. Seems to defeat the purpose, especially when I am only netting $10 on the deal. I also played the Venetian last year and I really liked the room as it is gorgeous and spacious. If you go back to the blog of that session, you will recall I ran into my first experience with collusion. I've thought about that session repeatedly and I can come to no other conclusion. The two players left together at the end of the session and took breaks together during the session. This is no reflection on the quality of the Venetian room. It would have been hard to catch and I might not have noticed it had I not been the victim in the hand. The Venetian provides players at my limit $1 per hour in comps which is pretty much the industry standard. I will be playing there again some time down the road.

This brings us to the last of the three options, The Wynn Las Vegas. The poker room at The Wynn is beautiful. There were 3 $4/$8 tables going when I got there around 1 pm which was a sight for sore eyes. I was seated in about 10 minutes and immediately felt I was in heaven. The quality of the players was so bad and there was a mix of locals and tourists. In the first two hours I was up $120. I texted Rebecca and told her that I think I had found my office. I slowly bled chips back throughout the course of the session and then slowly built them back up. I ended the session up $70 which is the equivalent of 1.45 big bets per hour. I could have easily pushed that up to 2 big bets if I value betted the river correctly in a few spots. This is going to be something I continually work on as I think this is where I can grind out as much as one additional big bet per hour in my game. Especially against a lone opponent on the river that I know will call a bet with a hand that he would not bet himself. No real big hands to discuss this session. Just top pair top kicker type hands that won decent sized pots repeatedly. I was pleased with my first session back off of a long layoff and I am looking forward to playing again tomorrow.

Oh, and The Wynn provides a $1/hr comp as well good at a limited number of restaurants. I'll be sure to accumulate them and then take wifey to the buffet which I hear is one of the best in town. It should be at $30 per person.

Hours Played This Session: 6.0
Take: $70
$ Per Hour: $11.67

Month to Date: $70
Year to Date: -$53
Hourly Rate Year to Date: -$2.44
Total Hours Played Year to Date: 21.75
Sessions Played Year to Date: 4
Win/Loss Record by Session: 2/2 50.00%