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%

Back To The Grind

It's been a while since I've had anything to say, hence the dry spell with posts. As mentioned previously, I have been waiting on a check to arrive and that day has finally come. After taking care of some financial obligations that had been weighing me down mentally (along with clogging up my voice mail with collector's calls - at least I was keeping people in the collection's department employed,) I feel like a huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders. I had been suffering from restless nights due to my financial position so I hope to be sleeping easier in the days to come. For the first time in my whole life I will be able to approach the felt battlefields with a clear conscience in regards to being properly funded. I have set aside a sufficient bankroll to get me going and I have money set aside to cover living expenses. In my time off I have been studying material on limit hold'em in anticipation of my return to playing.

I am psyched to get back to the grind. If you read blogs of some pros they talk about how they cannot stand the grind of playing table poker and how they believe online play is superior. There are pros and cons to each but I much prefer table poker to the virtual brand. There is just something romantic to me about the sound of riffling chips filling the air, the feel of real cards be squeezed out between my fingers, and the counting and recounting of checks before I move them into the center of the felt. Only a degenerate would find such things romantic. From the outside looking in, the life of a poker player looks sexy. A poker player gets to make his own hours, gets to play a game for a living, and carries large amounts of cash on him at all times. In reality, sitting at a table for 8 - 14 hours or more in clothes soaked with sweat, choaking on the scent of your own body odor along with smells of all the other mopes at the table, listening to the same bad beat stories over and over again, and carrying large amounts of cash that you cannot spend because the reality is this is your working capital for the business you are in is not particularly sexy in the least bit. However, all this still appeals to me on some level that I really cannot accurately formulate. I have so much admiration for the classic players such as Doyle Brunson, Brian "Sailor" Roberts, Amarillo "Slim" Preston, Jack Strauss, Puggy Pearson, Johnny Moss, and a host of other old timers that played brutally long sessions day in and day out to make their bones. There were no books to learn from at that time so they relied on playing long hours and seeing tons of hands to develop and revise their playing strategies. In addition, they did not have the luxury of virtual play on the internet. For instance, I played over 500 hands (roughly 8 hours) of limit hold'em yesterday at mico stakes just to get my card senses flowing again. It would have taken me a 16 1/2 hour session live to see as many hands as I did online. Online you get to see nearly double the amount of hands as you do live and in this regard I give the nod to online play as being superior. In limit hold'em, my edge comes from making less mistakes than my opponents. Therefore, the more decisions they get to make, the better my expectation of making a profit. It's just like playing a table game in the pits. I may get ahead for awhile playing craps or roulette, but giving enough trials I am guaranteed to walk away with my wallet lighter. It's the same for limit hold'em provided I am playing at stakes that I can afford and against competition that I can beat. At the stakes I am currently playing I am not worried about the competition. Make no mistake about it, online poker will be part of my game plan for making this career choice work for me. However, I do not play as well online as I do in a brick and mortar card rooms. I am not about to tell you that I am a master at picking up physical tells and that's what makes me so much better than when I play online. However, I do get a better sense of where a player is at in a hand when I can look across the felt at him. For instance, online I have no idea whether the villain I am heads up with is taking a lot of time making his decision because he has a borderline decision to make, or if his connection went down, or he got a phone call, or he is surfing porn and has not realized it is his turn to act. With that said, I feel my big bets per 100 hands will be lower online compared to live play but I am still a +EV player online so it will be worth my while to play when it is not feasible to make it to one of the card rooms here in town or I just want to get in some additional hands later in the day after playing a live session. Also, I must give a nod to those who point out that I will be able to multi-table my play online. Therein, even if I expect to make less BBs per 100 hands online, playing two or more tables I will be able to multiply my win rate accordingly. You just have to have the resolve to play ABC poker since your attention will be split amongst several tables. No matter, ABC poker gets the money at low limit play online. Hell, it gets the money at table play as well until you start to get to the middle limits and above where you really need to consider your opponents' tendencies much more closely along with switching up your own play to throw off observant and astute players. Even though there are many pros to being an online pro, I cannot stomach the thought of sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. If I wanted to do that, I'd find myself a real job. Besides, like the "Mad Genius" Mike Caro said people don't take the time and effort to make their way down to the cardroom to fold...I do.

With it being Rebecca's weekend, I plan on starting my final run at this brand of employment Sunday. Not sure where I plan on playing yet. I live right across from the South Point and I may give that a shot to start off with. I plan on playing $4/$8 limit hold'em to begin with. I don't think there is a single professional playing this low but my reasoning is I want to start back slowly and really get my card sense on point before venturing higher. I would like to pad the bankroll I have set aside some so that I minimize my risk of going broke. I figure logging sufficient hours at 4$/$8 I should be able to realize a profit of $2,000 a month. I am figuring I can average roughly 2 big bets an hour since the players are so bad at these stakes. That will not make me rich anytime soon but it will pay my portion of our living expenses and allow me to add to my bankroll. And if I can't achieve 2 big bets per hour, then I will just have to log enough hours of play to ensure I make my monthly nut. I will then start taking single session shots at the bigger games to see how I fair. Hell, if I can't make $2 G's a month then I really need to put this pipe dream to bed and go find some real employment. I also think it's time to find some breakfast. Take care and check back soon for a review of my upcoming session.