Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Defense of my title

Online tournament play can be a bit frustrating. Such a huge percentage of the prize money is in the top 3 places, whether there are 200 people in a tournament or 2000. So even if you have a good tournament and finish in the top 4% or so, you'll probably just earn about 4x or 5x your buy in back. And, how often does this happen? Not very. So basically by participating in big online tourneys all the time it can feel like you're just spinning your wheels.

I'm a slightly losing player in online tourneys. As I've mentioned before, online cash games are my thing. So now, when I do play tourneys I'm mostly playing live; home games and such. Obviously with live tourneys, most of the time they have a smaller field than online ones. Also, I've played a lot of sit n' go's and I feel I have a pretty big edge when it comes to final table play. Lastly, playing live tourneys allows you the chance to pick up physical tells. In no-limit tournaments, even the slightest information your opponent offers you in this way can really swing a big amount of chips in your direction if you interpret it correctly. These ingredients seemed to have made up a wonderful recipe of success for me so far in '05.

I won my first multi-table tournament back I believe in late February. It was a large home game of 69 entrants of $100 buy-in's each. This was the 3rd tourney that was organized at this residence. The 4th in this series was held this past Saturday. I'll give a tourney report here.

The first level and the first half of the second level were pretty boring. I had seen about 6 flops and had only raised preflop once, which was when I open raised on the button in a blind stealing attempt. I had limped in a few times and never really connected with the flop. We all started with 1000 in chips, and the blinds were 15/25 when I limped UTG with 77. It folded around to my friend Dave who had been a bit more aggressive than I so far. He made a pretty standard raise in the small blind, the big blind folded, and I had a decision. He actually had raised preflop from the big blind the previous hand so I decided to represent AA or KK and limp-reraise.

A little voice in the back of my head told me that he wouldn't raise a second time in a row without something good, but I hoped he had AJ or AQ, or even a bigger pair like 99 or TT that I could now take control of the hand with my representing strength, hoping he'd fold preflop or call the reraise and then fold the flop. Well, I ran into a monster when Dave pushed all-in. I was getting about 3.5 to 1 from the pot to call, and I figured I was pretty pot committed here. I had him outchipped I think by less than 100. Dave turned over KK. I did suckout on him though after I flopped a 7 and his day was done.

A loose aggressive player 2 seats to my left had reraised my blind stealing attempt with T8o in the first level. It was folded to me in about 4th position, and I made a 3 big blind raise of 150. He reraises me again on the button, and my friend Brent pushes all-in from the big blind. This made it an easy fold for me. The initial reraising donkey thinks about it for a second then calls with K5s. When Brent turned over QQ, the guy throws a bit of a hissy fit and starts saying "man, I thought he didn't have anything". Well, the queens held up and Brent took a big chunk of this guy's stack. However, after I see the donkey's K5 I immediately set my sights on him just waiting for the opportunity to trap him.

Well, that opportunity came. He limped in UTG, the small blind completed, and I just checked my AA in the hole. Flop came Ten high and not very draw heavy. The loose-aggressive guy to my right bet out about 2/3 of the pot and I just call the non-threatening board. Well, old hee-haw decides to push all-in for several times the amount of the pot. The SB folds and I immediately call. He turns over JT, sees my Aces, and again starts to throw a little fit. My aces hold up, I double up through him, and all is right with the world.

A little while later the LAG to my right makes another openraise. He's been openraising a lot, and betting out on a lot of flops. Since he's been getting away with it, he's got himself a nice amount of chips. I look down and see A5 of hearts and I call figuring there's a good chance I'm ahead of him here and I'll see if I can make the most of having position on him again. Flop comes AAK. He bets out about half the pot, and I raised. I raised specifically to sell the fact that I didn't have an Ace and wanted to protect a hand like TT. Most unimaginative people just call here. He calls, and when a blank hits on the turn, he pushes all in and when I insta-call he turns over KJ. I again double up thru him and sit with 2500 at the first break.

....more to come tomorrow

Friday, May 06, 2005

Been a while

Well, it's been a while since I've made a post here. I've neglected this blog because I've been working on my Poker World Rankings site. I'm working on developing this site with a team of guys and have been putting a lot of focus and energy into it. We think it has the potential to revolutionize professional tournament poker. There's currently no accepted standard for ranking pro tournament players, and we're hoping this will catch on. Check it out.

As far as poker goes, it hasn't really been anything exciting. About the most exciting this that's happened is that I won my first mulit table tournament. It was a live tournament with 69 entries of $100 each. I played heads up at the end for a little over an hour. It was a great feeling to win the first one and I guess you can lump me together with Mickelson and the Red Sox.

I don't consider myself a good tournament player. I definitely put much more of my focus and study on limit cash games. Eventually when I'm making a good hourly rate playing cash games I'll focus more on developing my tournament skills. But until then, I'll just play live tourneys for fun and limit cash games on line to grind out an hourly rate.

I have been putting in a lot of hands this year so far. Since February, I've been hitting it fairly hard. The following are my hand counts for the last 3 months:

February - 14,913
March - 18,041
April - 17,620

These have been at 2/4 and 3/6 at Party Poker. My winrate is positive but still much smaller than I'd like. The hand sample size is still fairly small but for now I'm going to continue to focus on putting in the hands, studying, and plugging leaks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Christmas party tournament with poker pros

Well Sunday I went to a Christmas party with a bunch of poker pros along with their friends and families. A buddy of mine is good friends with several of them and this is my second year celebrating the holidays with them since he invited me last year as well. The evening started around 5pm with a poker tournament and then went into dinner, dancing, and what not. The following will be my tourney report.

Tournament Report

There were around 7 or 8 tables of 8 people. The pros that played were Howard Lederer, John Juanda, Chris "jesus" Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Phil Gordon, Clonie Gowen, Christy Gazes, Mike Wolfe, and Rafe Furst. I think each of the pros kicked in some money for the prize pool. There was no entry fee, so essentially this was a "holiday freeroll". Everyone else who played were friends, spouses, and significant others.

So, the blinds were scheduled to go up every 13 minutes. We all started with 1000 in tournament chips. After about the 3rd level the blinds were going to get pretty expensive, so the value of mediocre cards went up since you couldn't really wait around to get premium hands like AA, KK, or QQ.

John Juanda was the only pro at my table to start. He was 2 to my left and was having a great time. He was being really chatty and social and playing just about every hand. It was funny, he was making amatuer plays like betting and raising the minimum. About my 15th hand at the table, I got the best hand so far, KQo. Unfortunately, I was in 2nd position but decided to raise an under the gun limper. Everyone else folded and he called. The flop came queen high, but my opponent bet out. I raised and he called. The turn was a brick giving no real draws, but he again bet out. I felt pretty pot committed at this point and he really didn't seem to know what he was doing, so I pushed in. He had about another 250 to call which he did. He turned over...Ace high?!? Yeah, no pair, no nuthin'! So he was drawing to 3 outs (3 aces) on the river. He missed and I doubled up.

After about 30 total hands or so, I got moved to a table with Lederer and Gordon. We were 7-handed I think and my first hand at the table I got A7s. Well the first 2 players folded to me and I openraised. The lady to my left pushed all-in, and the big blind called all-in. Well there was about 1200 in the pot and it was about another 400 to call, so I felt it was a pretty easy call. She flipped over ATo I believe and he flipped over KJo. Well the flop came 676, so I was in business. However the turn came a jack and the river a blank. So the big blind won the main pot with a pair of jacks and I busted out the lady next to me taking the side pot with a pair of 7's. I played a few more hands here and got moved again.

This time I was at a table with Clonie and a couple of my buddies. I'd never met Clonie before so I chatted it up with her. She's a sweetheart, but then again she's a southern belle so most of those folks in Oklahoma and Texas are super nice. Not much exciting happened at this table and I soon got moved to "jesus'" table.

I think Chris was the only pro here. Ironically the first hand I play here, he raised an open-raiser all-in for not a whole lot more. He was pretty short stacked and sheepishly turned over KTo when the initial raiser called him. Chris was behind to AQo and didn't improve. I again stayed here for only a few hands, maybe stole the blinds once and got moved again.

This time I got moved to Christy Gazes' table. She was the only pro left here and I hadn't met her before either. I moved with my buddy D from the other table. I was having a really good time at this point so I pretty much flirted with Christy and a couple of other hotties at the table. By this time the blinds were getting pretty big and Christy was being aggressive and open-raising often. I finally got another hand, KK, and since the blinds were so big I just pushed all-in I think from 2nd position. Christy called me with 99 and my kings held up. Here I doubled up again. Shortly after this hand our table broke and now there were 2 tables left.

Christy, D, and I moved to Phil Gordon's table. Phil had a healthy chip stack here. Here Phil was doing the same thing Christy was doing at the other table and open-raising often. A lot of these pros were being fairly aggressive and pushing hard with any pocket pair, or any 2 broadway cards. I knew what they were doing and was always looking to re-raise them all-in to force them to a decision with hopefully a hand they couldn't call. Well after sitting for a few hands, Phil open-raised in about 3rd position. D was pretty short stacked, looked at his hand and felt it was good enough to commit the rest of his chips to, so he pushed in. Everyone else folded, Phil called the small raise and turned over AQo. D turned over KJo. Now Phil is a really good friend of my friend D, so he started telling him how bad of a call that was with KJ. And when D caught his card and Phil didn't improve, it kind of set Phil on tilt pretty much until he busted out.

Phil lost another hand along the way, and then decided to open-raise all-in. I looked down at AKo and called instantly. It folded around and Phil turned over KJs. Well Phil flopped his 4-flush, but didn't improve. So after much loud cheering for that flush to come, Phil had to push me the rest of his chips. Now for anyone to bust out a pro, we got a $50 bounty. Phil took $100 out of his pocket and offered to roshambo (rock, paper, scissors) for double or nothing. After much pleading and my repeated refusals, Phil finally gave me $50 and left.

I was up to about 10K in chips at that point and feeling pretty good. There were about 12 or 13 left and the top 8 would make the money. Christy caught a hand a bit later and pushed about 5K in from 2nd position. I was in the big blind already and had around 4K to call. I looked down at AQ and figured I either had the best hand or would be slightly behind to a lower pair. Since there was a nice overlay in the pot with the blinds, I was getting the right price to call if my read was right. Well it was, and she flipped over QJo. So, I had her dominated (as far as poker goes anyway ;-) ) Well, she sucked out on me (still talking about poker) after flopping a jack and she took down the pot. After that hand, I didn't let her hear the end of it. Every chance I got, I gave her crap about it. Nothing else really exciting happened until we hit the final table of 8.

So now we were all in the money, blinds were huge, so players would start dropping like flies. The only pros left were Christy and Rafe. The first several hands were uneventful. We had a couple eliminations at the final table, so 6 were left. Rafe was in 2nd position and openraised about 4500 all-in. The blinds were around 750/1500 so there was a very nice risk/reward for pushing in and forcing your opponents to a decision. Well I looked down and saw AK and easily called for almost exactly the same stack size. Everyone else folded and Rafe turned over 57o. Rafe's a buddy of mine that I play volleyball with, and actually is Phil Gordon's best friend too. Well Rafe didn't improve and finished 6th, giving me another $50 for his bounty.

Now comes the anti-climactic ending. 8:30 rolled around and we had to start dinner if we were to stay on schedule for the rest of the night. So the 5 of us left just counted chips at this point and we got placed according to our stack sizes. I ended up finishing 4th, and my buddy D finished 2nd.

It was a great experience and the whole thing was a lot of fun. It felt really good being able to play with the pros and hang with them. Now a lot of them weren't playing their 'A' game and were just having a good time. But really, the gambler in all of them still wanted to win and didn't let anyone push them around. Granted there is so much luck in any tournament and even more so in this one where the blinds went up so fast. But just sitting at the final table and having a lot of them watch was pretty cool. I mean my goal is to be a world-class poker player, and if my performance that night helped gain any of their respect, well my EV in that tournament is immeasurable.

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hand of the week

I'd like to do a hand of the week each week. It will be a hand that I especially remember either because I won a lot, lost a lot, had a bad beat, or wasn't exactly sure how well I played it. Anyway, here's one from yesterday. How do you think I played it? I'll give the results later.

Party Poker 2/4 Hold'em (8 handed) converter

Preflop: Hero is UTG with A, A

Hero raises, UTG+1 folds, MP1 folds, MP2 folds, CO folds, Button folds, SB folds, BB 3-bets, Hero calls.

Flop: (6.50 SB) 8, Q, T (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets, BB calls.

Turn: (4.25 BB) 8 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets, BB calls.

River: (6.25 BB) 7 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets, BB raises, Hero 3-bets, BB calls.

Final Pot: 12.25 BB

A week later

So it's been about a week since I definitely decided to make poker my profession. In the early months of '04, I did pretty well at the 2/4 and 3/6 limits for hold'em at Party Poker. I progressed to the point where I was playing 3 tables of 3/6 hold'em at once. This is how I was grinding out an hourly rate to earn a living.

Once I got a job, I switched over strictly to tournament play. However, to me this seems like a really hard way to make a living. The variance of tournament results makes it too hard to have a consistent earn. Whether there are 200 people or 2000 in a tourney, the significant money is usually only in the top 3 spots. So, since I had a job I'd play tourneys strictly for the fun and competition, not worried too much about short term results.

However, now that I'm back doing it for a living I'm back to multi-tabling 3 Party Poker tables. Since I really haven't played much limit poker in 7 months, I'm settling back in at 2/4. It's going a little slower than I've liked, but my plan is to get back up to 3/6 in the next week or so and continuing to develop my game.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Purpose of this blog

Hi all. I love poker. I love it so much that I'm going to try and make a living at it. This site will detail my trials and tribulations in the quest of trying to pay my bills without having a real job.

A little background on me: I graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in '98 and worked for Caterpillar my first 3 years out of college. I fell in love/became addicted to the stock market and quit Cat to become a professional daytrader. Well this lasted for almost 2 years until I got sick of it. During this time I learned the game of poker, mainly hold'em.

I decided that my window into getting a good job again using my degree was only going to be open for a short while longer. So, since I was sick of the trading lifestyle, I started my job search all the while paying my bills playing poker. I was obviously successful at it and amazingly enough was able to grind out money to make a living after playing the game for only 5 short months. After several months of searching for a job, I finally found a good one with Mitsubishi in May.

Well, that blissful summer was ended abruptly when I got laid off this past Labor Day. After much internal anguish of what to do now, I decided my best route is to continue on this journey as a poker player and see where it leads. This is an overview of where I've been, and I invite you to join me as I move forward. Should be a hell of a ride.