Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just a Flesh Wound

My bankroll is not really big enough to play as many of these $10k+ events as I do. They are my favorite thing in the world, though. I'm a dreamer, and I do believe one day I will hit it big and make all the money back plus much more. Also, the thought of playing the big tournaments inspires me to play and make money in cash games when I'm not playing them, so for these reasons I continue to fire away. I think it's important for a poker player to have something to look forward to, something to desperately want.

All these reasons add up to an acute feeling of misery when I bust out of these tournaments short of the money. I am all too familiar with this feeling. In fact, I have failed to cash in my last eighteen tournaments with buyins of more than $5000. Several of these have been rather ugly, unfortunate exits. So today, when I lost a very big pot that essentially knocked me out after getting all the money in with my opponent just 13% to win, I was accustomed to the gut-wrenching, nauseous feeling and I recovered rather quickly.

I walked out to the beach. It was near sunset in Barcelona. A good start. There is no beach to walk out to in Tunica, or Las Vegas, so already the road to recovery looked more promising than usual.

There was this fat older lady making out with a hoboish-looking dude. It was kinda gross. But it was tender. They were down on this bench off the main beach drag, sort of off to themselves but also in plain sight to people walking or sitting nearby.

I was on that beach for more than an hour, and not a minute passed by where that fat old lady wasn't kissing, embracing, or clutching that hobo. I don't know what the occasion was. I imagined possible scenarios: it was their last night together before he went back to the Iraqi Army; he was a deep-sea fisherman leaving the next morning for three months at sea; he was going in the next day for an emergency operation that would likely kill him, but was his only chance at receiving a cure for his terminal disease.

Maybe there was no occasion. Maybe they were just in love.

Whatever it was that had that woman slobbering all over that man, it held more meaning, more importance than any poker tournament.

Longtime readers of this blog know that it can be painful for me to watch Paul have success in these poker tournaments. It was a little painful today. He was at my starting table and I watched him make what I felt was a mistake against Annette_15, only to get rewarded with a suckout triple-up that kickstarted a huge rush. By the time dinner rolled around, Paul was one of the biggest stacks in the tournament and I was, of course, out of the tournament. It all seemed pretty unfair.

But, well, it's not unfair. Longtime readers of this blog also know that Paul's $6 million score at the WSOP last year personally netted me $240,000. I have told Paul that he can never, ever complain about bad beats in poker again, and that is probably true for me too.

Really, any poker player who can come to Barcelona and spend 11,500 of his own dollars to buy into a poker tournament can't complain about bad beats.

In the end, it didn't work out for Paul today. He lost some unfortunate hands and was eliminated shortly before the money. When we got back to the house after a late dinner and he was, unexpectedly, already there, I honestly felt disappointed.

I somehow located the metro from the casino to our place and then Truman, Gabri, and I went out to dinner. We had a very good meal and a better conversation. Among other things, we talked about snoring, vomiting, and nosebleeds.

I was thinking the whole time - I don't get nosebleeds. I don't have allergies. I don't snore. I don't get sick very often. All my body parts work like they're supposed to. I've never had a catastrophic illness or injury. With one exception, no one close to me has never had a catastrophic illness or injury. I've never been super close to someone who has died.

I have taken a lot of bad beats in big poker tournaments, but I haven't taken any in real life.

Hasta la Vista

I took a very bad beat in a 70k pot and was sent packing. More to come later.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

EPT Barcelona, Day One

I promise I’ll soon provide some interesting, insightful material for this blog and not these inane hand histories that most people don’t care about. I won’t be playing too many big tournaments for a while, and I feel this is one of the best ways to improve my game, so here’s another:

I recognized no one at the table to start, though Katja Thater soon showed up. The 1 and 2 seats were gigantic LAGs, the 3 and 7 seats were ridiculous fish, and the others were fairly tight. I was in the 5 seat.

EP = early position
LP = late position
UTG = first position
HJ = hijack
CO = cutoff
R = raise

We started with 10k chips, blinds at 25-50, and me in the CO.
Throughout the day, I raised between 2.7x and 3x the BB.

Two players limp I fold K7s CO, I don’t like playing the first hand.

R A9o CO both blinds missing. 7 calls on the button. Flop KQ7 it goes check-check. Turn 8 I check-fold to a 100 bet. Obviously a weak line by me. Obvious play was to fire the turn but this guy had already shown some fishy signs and I wanted to build respect for later.

2 limps, SB limps, I check QTss in the BB. Flop 872 checked around turn T SB checks I bet 125 and take it down.

Two guys limp I find my old favorite J2 of diamonds in the SB and complete. Flop 962 all spades checked around, turn Jh I bet 150, 2 is the only caller. River Ah I think and then bet 250, 2 makes it 850, I call, he mucks, but they make me show down the hand.

Tight guy raises I call with AQ. Flop Tc7c3 check-check turn J he fires 300 and I fold.

UTG raises and gets three callers I fold T9o on button.

Fold A9o and A7o EP.

1 makes a large raise to 250, 2 calls (2 calls everything), I make it 1025 in SB with KK and they both fold.

Fold KJo 2nd pos.

UTG limps 1 limps I limp AJ in SB even though I’m pretty sure these guys are weak, BB checks. Flop T83 I check-fold.



Raise AQ on the button take the blinds.

Raise JJ MP 7 calls. Flop Td9h7d I bet 400 he calls. Turn Ah I bet 650 he folds.

Raise AK UTG amazingly everyone folds.

2 limps I limp 76o on button BB checks. Flop 953 checked to me I bet 200 they fold.

2 limps UTG I limp AcQs MP. Reason being I know he is calling any sized raise and I will have to make a hand to win the pot. 6 raises to 400 all fold to me I call. Flop KsJs8s I check-call 600. Turn 2h I check-fold to a 1k bet. Outstanding aggressive line by me there.

In the BB with 92ss. Katja and the SB limps, I show no interest whatsoever in a QxxxJ board and fold to a river bet.

1 and 2 limp I limp K5s on button the BB raises 600 more everyone folds.

Raise A2s CO and win blinds.

2 raises to 400 UTG 3 calls I fold A6s, then the guy to my left throws in 4 1k chips and acts like it was a huge accident, of course there is suspicion that it was an angle-shoot. 2 decides to cold-call the 4k, and then 3 goes all in for 300 chips more, the guys call and check down a ragged board and 3 triples up with 88 which made a boat on the end. 2 shows AJs and the other guy mucks, later telling me he had kings which doesn’t really make sense for him to never bet.



2 limps LP I limp T8o in SB, BB checks. Flop AT3 rainbow we check to 2 he bets 150 I call. Turn 6 I check-call another 150. River 5 I check he bets 600. Not really a bluff line at all, he probably hit some weird two pair, I fold.

Raise AK on button, 7 calls in BB. Flop Qs8d6d check-check. Turn Js he bets 3k (lol) I instafold.

Fold T8s EP.

R AKs UTG 2 calls. Flop 763 check-check. Turn 5 check-check again now he must have me drawing dead to check it there, river 3 I check-fold to a 600 bet.

A new guy raises to 450 in LP, I call in BB with A3ss. Flop Qh8h3 I check-call a 500 bet. Turn K check-check. River 8 check-check he has AJ I win. Terrible line by him there.

10,550 at dinner, with 18 minutes left in the level.

With the blinds gone, 2 limps, 3 limps, I make it 700 on the button with AsQs, 2 calls, 3 folds. Flop J63 with two spades, 2 checks I bet 1100 he calls. Turn 5 he checks I have 8600 left and an interesting decision. I hate that turn card and don’t want to get checkraised here so I check. River offsuit K, he checks, I bet 2k, he thinks and decides to call with Q6s. Then he slams his cards on the table like he’s Stu Ungar after I show my AQ (literally the only hand I could have that he can beat) when in reality he’s just a terrible calling station. Argh.

Moved to new table with 6750 and right away I know I will not be moving above gear 2 here anytime soon. Johnny Lodden (half-Swedish, half-Japanese 21-year old ultra high stakes wunderkind) is to my right with lots of chips. Mark Vos is to my left, and Elky is two to his left with tons of chips. There are also a couple Swedes who look like they know what they’re doing, and a couple other guys with big stacks.

From here on out I didn’t even bother to report the hands I was folding. Just assume I was folding anything less than a top-tier hand unless I mention otherwise.


Walk Vos with T4o.

Elky raises UTG 3 calls I fold 55 on button.

Guy limps I limp A5dd CO. Vos limps BB checks flop AKQ one diamond the limper bets 600 I call others fold. I probably should have just dumped this crap on the flop but figured he might have just a worse pair and gutty and shut down on the turn. Turn 2h he bets 1k with 2400 behind I’m really not putting him on anything better than AT but I don’t think he’s folding an ace to a raise, I just fold, pretty bad siphon there.

Down to 5k.

Lodden limps UTG and I pick up QQ in 2nd pos. I limped for no other reason than I felt it would just be so obvious I had a huge hand if I raised based on my position and image. Vos limped, a Swede limped, the BB checked. Flop JdT5d checked to me I bet 700. Vos calls, the Swede calls, BB folds, then Lodden makes it 3k. I shove for 1k more, others fold and Lodden calls 1k more with T9o, which I wasn’t expecting and grateful to be up against. I held him off and more than doubled.

Very next hand UTG I pick up QQ again and raise to 600, Vos calls, a Swede shoves for 5.5k and then Lodden kinda casually calls in the BB with 13k behind. I fold and Vos folds AQ. The Swede has TT which is an incredible coup – a pair better than his folded and he’s now racing against AK with an ace folded – but the board comes AKxxx.



Still no antes, I have no interest in moving above gear 2.

Raise 99 2nd pos all fold.

Button limps, Lodden limps SB, I check KJo in BB. Flop 98x checked around turn A check-fold to a bet and a call.

Vos moved.

I raise AJ of spades on the button. Elky calls in BB. Flop Ts8c4c he leads 1100 I let him have it.

Raise 88 hijack win the blinds.

Fold KJo 2nd pos.

A big stack raises and Lodden calls in the BB. The flop comes KQ9 and Lodden just tosses his cards in the muck. The preflop raiser shows JT for the flopped nut straight.

I administer a walk with T4s.



Fold T7s MP maybe should have gone after this one.

Swede raises EP I smoothcall with QQ, again because I just think reraising would only isolate to AK and better hands with my image and also commit me to the pot preflop. SB calls as well. Flop comes 8c6c2 and they check to me. I assume they are just going to fold to my 2k bet but the Scandinavian raises to 7k after the SB folds. I’m all in for 500 more and then a humongous dealing fiasco ensues. I believe the exact order of events went:

  1. I moved all in for 500 more
  2. The Swede said “call”
  3. We turned the hands up, the Swede had nothing but AJ of hearts
  4. The dealer turned our hands over and started pushing them to the center of the table
  5. The dealer collected the pot and pushed it in my direction

I might be way off here as I was trying to process the hand and what the Swede had. Anyways, we were able to undo all the damage, get the pot right, get the flop right, get our hands back, and deal the final two cards, which were a jack and some rag. So I doubled up.

I realized later if the Swede had been a prick, he might have been able to get the hand declared a misdeal. I thanked him later and he pointed out that I might have been able to get his hand declared dead, since it was mucked before he called my all-in bet. Fortunately neither of us answers to the name Joel “Angle-Shooter” Patchell, so we were able to sort everything out and the hand finished correctly.

Raise the next hand with AJ and win the blinds.

Fold QJ and KT EP next two hands.

EP raises to 1k and Lodden calls. I have 33 in the cutoff. The raiser has about 10k. I decide to just fold. I’m curious to see what people think to do here. Flop came AQ3 but the raiser looked like he might have aces or queens the way he checked the flop and then bet the turn.

A guy limps I limp with QcTc from the hijack. Blinds check and we see a flop of Qh5h3c. The limper bets 800 and I call. The blinds get out of the way. The turn comes Qs and the limper shoves for 2800. I call, he has QJ, river comes x and he wins.

Raise AK UTG. Lodden calls in BB. Flop K97 he checks I bet 1300 he calls. Turn T check-check. River 5 he checks I decide the best way to get value here is to bet huge, so I bet 4k and he folds instantly.



Fold 74o on button though I will not get many chances to open pots at this table.

UTG raises I call in BB with AsKc. Flop K73 two spades I check-call 1500. Turn 9 I check-call 3k. River is a gross Q it goes check-check he has Ac5c (nothing) I win.

The very next hand: A guy raises UTG to 1200 and everyone folds to the A5 guy in the BB and he makes a small reraise to 2500. UTG calls. The flop comes AT4 rainbow and the BB checks. UTG bets 2k and BB thinks for thirty seconds then goes all-in for 8k more. UTG goes into a little tank. He has about as many chips as the BB. Finally he decides to call…with KJo. The BB has AA. A queen on the river fills UTG’s gutshot and the BB is sent packing. Quite possibly the most gruesome exit I have ever seen in a big tournament, and the BB appeared to be a local satellite winner.

The next hand it folds to me on the button. There is only a single big blind, the KJo guy who is clearly embarrassed so I pretend to look and then raise and he folds quickly.

I limp KTo behind a limper. The blinds check, we see a flop of 753 the BB leads out and we all fold.

Folds to my SB I raise to 1300 the BB (KJo guy) reluctantly folds and I show my KK. He shows Q7s.

A guy who seemed kinda LAG raises to 1500 in EP with 5500 behind. I kinda felt he was strong and maybe should have just folded my pocket tens or perhaps called to take a look at the flop and his reaction but instead I reraised to 4500, he decided to go with his AQ, the board came AKxxT so basically I played it perfectly.

Fold 86s 2nd position though I am now prepared to bump it to gear 3 or maybe even 4 depending on what I see from the table.

LP (a new Scandinavian) raises to 1100 and Lodden calls on the button. I looked at the As and thought about pulling the trigger with a reraise right there, but I did look at the other one which was the Ts which was good enough to make it 4200. The preflop raiser folded but Lodden called which turned my blood to Jell-O. The flop came 9s7s3s (I flopped the nut flush) and I had visions of stacking a 60k pot but Lodden just folded to my 6700 bet and I felt pretty sheepish. Lodden asked if I had kings and said he folded tens and I told him I flopped a flush.

Next hand I raise J8o on the button which maybe was a mistake. The BB (KJo guy) made a tiny reraise and I called, then folded to his bet on the Q73 flop.

A few hands later I pick up my first AA of the day and raise it from the hijack. Elky makes it 3400 in the SB with 20k behind and I decide to just call which is a little dangerous because I’m guaranteed to lose a monster if he outflops me. I had no read on him whatsoever, I felt like he could have a monster but also could have nothing and would have to fold most hands maybe even QQ if I reraised so I just called. The flop came K85 rainbow and he bet 4500. I made it 10k and he folded “tens.”



Raise AT EP win the blinds.

Moved to new table where I recognize no one but there are a lot of chips here.

Folds to the SB (a big stack) who raises 4x. I’m in the BB with T9o and fold after a bit of a staredown. Probably not proper big stack protocol but I don’t know how these guys are playing and I’m looking for a little respect.

Next hand I give a walk with Q5o, again probably not proper big stack protocol.

Vos sits down at this table to my direct left with a giant stack, after winning a 50k pot all in preflop with AJ against J9 (long story).

Fold A8s UTG.

EP raises to 1800 I find AA in BB during a conversation with Vos. I reraise to 4400 and he folds. I show it.

A couple hands later a guy raises early-middle and I look down at AKs from the hijack. I take a glance at his stack to see if he has too much for AK all in preflop (he doesn’t) and I make it 5k. He shoves for 14.7k which was more than I thought he had but still an easy call, he has QQ and wins the race.

Raise QTo MP and Vos reraises, I fold.

Fold QJo EP.

Last two hands are my blinds, both of which are folded.

Finished the day with 24,950, won the chip race so 25k on the dot for Thursday.

As you can see I played “corn on the cob” poker all day with no butter, salt, or pepper.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On to Day Two

I played very tight and nitty all day, hit a rush, then lost a 30k coinflip with ten minutes left in the day and finished with an average stack of 25k. The Fish made it through with 12.5k.

I logged all the hands and will post them tomorrow. I really didn't do anything exciting at all. It was actually a bit boring at times but got a bit interesting late in the day.

Tomorrow is day 1b, off for us. Apparently Paul and Truman are meeting Phil Gordon for lunch and volleyball. Not sure if I'll join them or not as they're meeting at the very ripe early hour of 1 PM.

Monday, August 27, 2007


The usual hiccups (wifi issues, electricity conversion problems, mayhem at the casino) have occurred, but all the major problems appear to be out of the way now and it's time to get down to business, then pleasure. The tournament starts tomorrow.

I'm not comfortable yet. It always takes me a long time to adjust to a new situation. Who knows, I might never get comfortable for the entire seven weeks I spend in Europe and then remember why I vowed to cut down on travel.

Spain appears to be paradise for degens. Everything gets going a few hours later than it does in the U.S. People eat dinner at midnight. The tournament doesn't start until 5 in the afternoon tomorrow. These conditions and the jet lag have us on a real late schedule (we woke up at 5 PM today) which might continue for the two weeks we're here.

Wish me luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

FTOPS $2500 Event Hands, Day Two

I was sharp, focused, and pretty nervous for day 2.

R 77 2nd pos steal blinds
Button R with big stack small stack in BB I reluctantly fold Q9s in SB
R AKs MP batoelrob RR in SB to 6k I shove for 37k he folds
Next hand R T7s EP a short stack shoves for 10k I fold
R J9s UTG steal blinds
Fold A9o HJ batoelrob in SB BB shortish stack
Moved to new table R first hand with Q8s HJ get RRd fold
R AQ from HJ short stack on button RR small 1/4 his stack fuck you I'm allin he folds. I just could not fold these hands today with the amount of reraising going on, it was truly ridiculous, the preflop specialists were really out in force putting a ton of heat on people.
Get a walk
Call UTG R with 66 BB calls as well flop J97 C to me I have an interesting decision and check. Turn 5 BB checks UTG bets hard probably full of it but I fold BB folds.
Next hand David Chiu R UTG I call with 77 flop A high all spades no spades for me I fold to his bet
R 22 2nd pos BB calls flop 994 he ck-calls my cont-bet turn K C C river Q he C I fire half pot he folds. Good line by me here, of course I was helped out by the board.
Button R to 2400 with 18k behind I shove with KTo in BB he folds. KTo an underrated resteal hand I think.
R J7s 3x in SB BB calls flop A42 C C turn T I fire 2/3 pot he calls river A C C he wins with K4o looks like he'll dance in pos.

R KK MP steal blinds show it
Fold J7s HJ felt like a bad time for a steal
R T8s UTG get RRd fold
In the money now....
R QQ in SB the K4o guy in the BB folds

Get a walk
Fold QJo EP def in gear 2 now
Chiu shoves for 9800 I call with KQs in BB he has KJo flop is J high but Q on river, ship the shirt. KQ continues to move up my ladder of hands that I call allins with.
Moved to new table
UTG limps I limp 33 on button blinds check board of 756K2 is checked to the river until UTG makes a small bet and takes it
R A8s HJ take blinds
Fold T8s HJ def in gear 2
Fold Q9s 2nd pos
Fold A6s UTG
UTG limps I fold KTs in HJ
R 77 UTG steal blinds
Fold K9o button to a CO R
7 handed
Fold K4s CO
Fold QJo UTG
Fold A6s in BB to the button's R, def one of those spots where I am way ahead of his range but the play is still fold I think cause of other variables.
Fold QJo button to a shortie's EP R


Try a HJ steal with A7s but get shoved on by the BB
R KQ 2nd pos steal blinds
Limp 93s SB after an EP limp flop nothing C-fold
Fold 55 CO to an EP R
Fold A8o HJ
Fold AQo to big stack UTG R with like 35k in my stack. This one was about as close as it gets, I feel about half of players shove in there and maybe a quarter flatcall, and then there are the other quarter of weak-tight wusses like me who just fold.
R the next two hands UTG + 1 and UTG with AQo and JJ and win both uncontested then get walked the next one.
Open fold 55 2nd pos
Every pot at every table getting reraised
R AQo MP steal blinds
Fold A7o in SB to colson's button R
R AQo CO happy to go with it they fold

Fold J8s MP
Fold 65s EP
As5h in BB there's an LP limp I check. Flop A high all hearts I CR a 4k bet allin and win
Next hand in SB UTG limps I complete SB with J9o flop AJ9 two clubs I CR allin and win.
7handed...EP R to 6k I have 50k in BB and 88...very awkward...Phil Hellmuth wouldn't shove but I do...shady at best...she folds.
Fold QJo HJ
R KQo 2nd pos next guy calls I C/fold on 987 flop
UTG R to 6k I shove for 50k with JJ in next pos he tank-calls with TT of same suits I double up.
R T7s MP steal blinds
RR the button's R with AQs he folds instantly
Fold 67s on button to a R
28 left
114k right at avg

Fold KJo in pos to EP R
R UTG ATs get a call flop comes A high C C I bet turn and win
Fold QTo in BB to a MP R (9 handed now)
R AJo CO SB calls BB shoves for 32k I call SB folds BB has 88 he wins
Next hand R 33 BB calls flop Q95 C C turn 2 he bets the minimum I call river A he checks I fire 2/3 pot he makes a monster call with 98 and wins. I should have bet 30-50% or 90-100% of the pot here.
Haralabob R MP I fold AT with 60k
Open fold K9s CO
R AKo MP take blinds
Fold 83o to the SB's R in BB both short stax
Limp AJs in SB looking for limp R he checks flop A high I bet and take it
Next hand I fold A7s on button unopened which seems like lunacy but I throw them a hanging curveball resteal opportunity if I raise and I can't call an allin
EP R I think I am gonna ship it with AJo but someone beats me to the punch so I fold
Fold A8s and A9o consecutive hands can't throw hanging curveballs at this point
CO R with not that big a stack I have 63s in BB a great resteal spot but I fold
Same guy R UTG I have K9s CO another tempting one but I fold again
Shove AK UTG for 15x BB all fold
LP R I shove 66 in SB BB calls with AK LP folds I flop a set and win the race
Very next hand there is no SB a guy R I just call AA for 4th straight time in trny. BB calls as well, they check to me on the QTx flop I bet BB thinks forever and folds rzer folds.
Very next hand a shortish stack R I shove with KQ playing 6 handed all fold
Very next hand UTG R I RR with AQs basically committing he thinks and shoves I call he has KK I hit an A on the turn to win the 156k pot
Two hands later R 87 UTG get RRd by big stack fold
A few later R A7o the big stack BB RR me again I fold
Consolidated to two tables
colson to my left, grndhg with short stack to his left, haralabob with shortish stack to his left, inanimtecarbnrd to his left with a mountain, MasterJ to his left with a mountain, 3 solid players round out the table
MasterJ R LP, a big stack RR from the CO to 24k, I shove AKs in SB for 160k both fold
Big stack R EP I just call on button with AK looking for a squeeze from the pros in the blinds who have nice stax to make the play colson pulls the trigger no surprise big stack folds I instacall colson wakes up with KK and no magic ace this time
Fold 87s in pos to a R
Fold A6s EP
Fold Q9o CO

R QJs MP my old friend grdnhg smoothcalls with short stack flop J62 flop I cont bet he folds
colson R UTG I fold KJo in BB
R 99 UTG all fold
call the button's R with KJs in the BB flop 665 CC turn A I C-fold
Fold K9s EP
7 handed now
EP R I smoothcall AA cause that's what I always do it comes a gross KK5 we both check turn T he C I bet half pot he R 3x I feel kinda nausesous here. He made it 50k I have 100k left I decide I'm not folding, I push he folds.
Button R to 12k I make it 33333 colson shoves for 70k more in BB I am getting better than 2:1 but fold, would be crippled if I called and lost. This one was really really close, I may have been getting the right price here against his range but didn’t think it was a good time to call off a bunch of chips almost certainly behind.
R UTG with KQo button tanks and calls flop is Q9x I cont bet 2/3 pot he calls turn x I C planning on CRing allin he just goes allin for over the pot I instacall he has KQ we chop.
Button limps I call in SB with KJs colson C BB flop QJ9 we all check turn T we check to button who bets small. I raise 3x, colson tanks and smoothcalls (there are 2 spades on board) river x I bet 2/3 pot he calls with KJ chop again.
R AKs grndhg calls in SB flop 765 C C turn 5 he overbets pot I fold.
After this the play was all shorthanded and frantic, and I didn’t write down the hands. I don’t have the hand histories available so the rest will be memories.

Some point not too much later there was a button or CO raise and I made a 3x raise in the BB with KK, he decided to shove me in and of course I called and held up against his AQs and I was one of the big stacks with about 14 players left.

I was in an interesting spot at this point as we neared the final table. I eventually moved up to second in chips with 12 left but grndhg was to my left with a big (and growing) stack fiending to make my life miserable. I don’t really remember the hands other than a couple successful steals, a couple failed steals, and one where UTG raised and I reraised in second position with A8s and took it down. Plays like this and the AJ where I fired three barrels the day before is where I’ve really improved my game recently. My old game was kind of like eating corn on the cob without anything on it. Solid and nutritious but nothing special. Now I’ve added just a little bit of salt and pepper and it’s made all the difference. Sometimes the moves fail (such as the FTOPS main event where I bluffed half my chips half an hour into the tourney) but usually they work and give me the breathing room I need while I nit it up waiting for hands.

Anyways, the critical pot of the tournament came up with us playing 5-handed nearing the final table. I raised AQ UTG and grndhg called in position. The blinds got out of the way and the flop came QTx with a flush draw. Right away I knew I was going to check because I had been giving up on scary flops against grndhg and just letting him have the pot. He was sure to bet it, quite possibly overbet it, if I checked so I wanted to let him bluff off some money before raising him and taking it down. He bet, as expected, something normal and average like 2/3 pot. Sometimes I will get tricky and smoothcall in spots like this but the board was scary and pot control is hopeless against grndhg who likes to make pot and overpot bets. I raised 3x and grndhg immediately shoved in. I’m trying to remember the bet sizes here. I think the blinds were 2.5k-5k, I raised to 12222 or something preflop, grndhg called, I checked the flop, he bet around 25k and I made it 77k and he immediately jammed for about 220k more. I called pretty quickly without tanking or anything, he showed two aces and crippled me.

This was obviously a sickening stomach punch, as I got involved in a gigantic pot with the only guy at the table who could cripple me with almost no chance to win. It was arguably the most important hand of my entire poker career, with so much money riding on its result. Whenever you lose a pot like this, you obviously spend a ton of time afterwards racking your brain trying to think if you misplayed it at all.

After thorough thought, I have concluded that not only was it impossible for me to get away from this hand, but in fact I played the hand optimally. I believe I maximized my EV both on this hand and in the tournament by playing it the way I did. I could have found a way to get away from it and likely cruised to a top 5 finish, as an anonymous fan commented on my blog. But if I had won the pot I would have been the gargantuan chip leader heading into the final table and in great position to take down the $400k first prize. Most importantly, I believe I will be ahead of grndhg’s range there enough to make calling more profitable than folding. If I had simply bet at the flop, grndhg would almost certainly have raised, and I would have really had no choice but to go all-in and I would have lost the maximum as well. It was a devastating, costly hand, but after much thought I am going to write it off as a cooler and try to forget its consequences.

Shortly after this I shoved for 10x on the button with K8, got called by the BB, and flopped an 8 to outrun his pocket sevens. A couple orbits later a stack who was only a little bigger than me raised from the CO and I shoved in the BB for about 4.5x with J7s. He had an easy call with QQ and I went out in 10th. I defend this J7 shove, as his stack was the best one for me to attack and it was going to be very hard to manufacture chips 5 handed with a short stack. The CO had to have a good hand to call off 90% of his stack against me, and J7 is in surprisingly strong shape against all the hands he’d call me with except JJ-AA.

Overall I played a fantastic tournament, not “above the rim” by any means but virtually mistake-free. I have no regrets with any play I had on day 2, I just wish I hadn’t had AQ against AA on a Q high flop playing 5-handed against another big stack.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

FTOPS $2500 Event Hands, Day One

The FTOPS $2500 2-day NLHE event featured an unparalleled online structure, with long levels and very slowly rising blinds. I believe it was similar to a typical $10k live main event structure. Someone should do the math on this and see how this compared to the average 10k event. I knew coming in there would be tons of play and the antes wouldn’t hit for a few hours. Stealing wouldn’t be necessary in the early going, and might just impede progress.

We started with 5000 chips and 10-20 blinds. I recognized no one at my table, which was stunning considering the strength of the field. I decided to start in a solid gear 3, trying to play a good number of pots with the blinds low and some potential dumbasses with chips to burn.

The story of my tournament, simply put, was getting abused by a stratospheric-stakes NLHE cash player named grndhg25, who sat two to my left for most of the first day and then returned to haunt me in the same seat with two tables left. Grndhg has played very few tournaments, but he is unquestionably an extremely skilled, crafty, and aggressive player. His skills are certainly superior to mine, and with his constant gigantic stack two to my left, he made life miserable. I played many pots with him throughout the tournament, and he got the better of me on every single one. Whether it was bluffing me out, holding the best hand, folding when I wanted action, or getting me to put a lot of money into a pot before taking it away, there is no question I was his whipping boy every step of the way.

EP = early position
MP = middle position
LP = late position
HJ = hijack (one before cutoff)
CO = cutoff (one before button)
UTG = under the gun (first position)
R = raise
RR = reraise

Throughout the tournament, I raised between roughly 2.2 and 2.8x the big blind when I opened a pot, unless I was the small blind where I would typically raise 3-3.5x. I believe I never open-limped once the whole tournament except for the small blind.


R 99 UTG to 56. LP RR to 198 SB coldcalls I call. Flop A42 SB bets out 200 we fold.
R A9 in SB to 66 BB folds.
R QJo to 56 HJ. Both blinds call. Flop QT4r bet 111 into 168. BB CR to 300, I call. Turn 3h we both check. River Ah BB fires 550 into 768 I fold. Possibly bluffed here.
R A4dd EP CO to 56 CO and button call flop Js8h5s I C/fold to a min bet.
HJ R to 60 I repop to 199 in SB with AJo he calls. Flop K63r I bet 302 he calls. Turn 4 I bet 777 he folds.
R AK to 56 EP steal blinds.
Fold 87o in BB to a button R.
Fold Q9o on button to the CO's R
Fold QTo two consecutive hands MLP then fold KTo EP, table playing kinda wild and aggressive.
Serve a walk with K2o.
R 75s HJ steal blinds.

R AQo to 82 EP get RRd big and fold.
Next hand R A5s UTG and steal blinds.
SB limps R to 92 with Q9o flop 986 with a flush draw he check folds to my 122 bet.
Fold A7s EP
Fold KJo UTG
Fold K9o in BB to a raise. Gear 2 here with the way table is playing.
Fold J7s UTG
Fold 54s in SB to a R
R KJcc CO button calls BB calls flop AcKs9s everyone checks turn Tc C I bet a miniscule 56 button calls river Kd I tank and run out of time about to fire a big bet so it checks for me he checks behind QTo I win.

MP R I RR behind him with KK he folds. I hate making "obvious beast" plays like this, I've recently been making a lot more of them with nothing in similar spots. I almost smoothcalled here just to disguise the hand.
EP R to 120 I call with 88 flop QJ4 he fires 200 I fold.
R AQhh to 108 EP BB calls. Flop 9s4s2 he checks I fire 144 he calls. Turn 3 he checks I think and check. River J he fires 350 I thought about calling him here I mean what can he have really? But I fold.
Fold 65s UTG next hand
Fold J9o in BB to a CO R and button call.
Fold J7s to a guy raising every hand.
I say I might be playing in gear 1 here and then ask Paul for his definition of gear 1 and the ensuing discussion reveals folding AJ cutoff and 66 on the button...ok I'm definitely not in gear 1. Maybe 2.
R TT 2nd pos all fold.
Next hand R AA UTG all fold.
Fold J8o in BB to the guy raising every hand's CO R

R A7s MP steal blinds then fold A7s very next hand.
Fold 74s UTG. I was talking earlier about how guys siphon off chips playing hands like this EP, I think it's usually just not worth it at strong tables with no antes. Negreanu can pull it off because when he hits everyone always pays him off and he can control pots so well, but for most players it’s probably not worth it.

Fold AQo in BB to a LP R, call, and SB squeeze
Call CO R with 87s in BB, CC on 332 flop, C/fold on K turn.
Fold J8o on button.
R AQo CO grndhg calls in SB and pots the Ts8s3s flop I fold.
I give a walk with 63s
Call a HJ R and CO call with 55 flop 876 they check to me I bet they fold.
Call a MP R with JJ, then it gets squeezed by a medium-short stack behind me, I decide I am shoving, but then the original raiser reraises, I fold, the squeezer's AQ rivers a Q to beat the other guy's AK. Interesting little bullet dodged there.
R KQo MP guy behind me calls, I bet the A7h6h flop and of course get called, he can call me here with any two I think, I check fold the 7 turn and hate myself.
HJ R I call in BB with AsJs flop J74 two diamonds I check-call 200. Turn T I bet 311 he calls. River 7 I bet 1011 he calls with AJ and we chop.
CO R to 150 I make it 511 in SB with A9s he folds.

Call a R with QJs fold to a bet on 994 flop with 4 people in the pot
Limp JTo in SB min bet AK2 flop win.
R 98s CO grndhg calls in SB. Flop AhQd2d he check-calls a bet turn 5s check I weakly check and give up river As he bets 2x pot I fold.
Fold KTo on button to MP R.
I announce I might be moving to a lower gear and MasterJ jokes "which one, park?"
R QQ UTG all fold, get walked next hand
LAG R to 180 MP I RR to 511 on button with T8s he calls flop AJT he check folds to a 777 bet so much for that weak tight shit I just couldn't take it anymore.
UTG limps, MP goes to 180 I smoothcall in BB with AKo, UTG calls. Flop Ad9h4h checked to MP he bets 500 I make it 1222 UTG folds PF rzer tanks and shoves, I instacall, we chop AK, the first of many chops in this tournament.
I R 54cc to 233 in the SB BB calls flop Kh6c5d I check-call 288 turn 3d interesting spot here I tank and check he checks river Tc I check, don't think I'm calling a bet here, he checks with A3 I win.
Fold 63s unopened on button.

EP R to 240 I smoothcall AsAd in CO flop comes Kd4hTd he checks I bet 412 he calls turn 2c he checks I bet 999 he calls river ugly Jd he checks I greedily bet 999 he calls again with ATs. I thought about checking each street but ultimately went for it every time and it paid off.
Big stack R to 240 I call with 22 bigstack grndhg behind goes to 920 first big stack calls I have a really really close setmine but decide to fold flop J43 guy checks grndhg bets hard guy folds grndhog shows 98s.
R UTG AQs someone reraises big I decide to dump it table is playing REALLY aggressive.
Folds to me in SB Th8s I limp BB goes to 240 I call flop As9s3s I check BB bets 322 I make it 831 BB folds.
R AQs grndhg calls on button flop AT3 rainbow. I am so ready for the upcoming float, I bet 344 he calls as expected turn 9s so ready for this guy to bluff it off twice I check he overbets the pot for 1499 suddenly I am quite worried. I call. River 9 I check he puts me allin for 5729 I go deep into the tank. I feel like
a) he is obviously capable of any move, he plays 200-400 HU NL
b) obviously I am showing weakness here but when I check-call an overpot bet it looks like I definitely have an ace.
c) he showed a bluff earlier, I think he showed it to get someone to make a big call later
d) he has a boat, 9, or nothing
e) very good structure I don't need to do anything crazy I can come back
f) I have called it off on the river in a few big tournaments including the 5k shorthanded at the WSOP vs Imper1um and get shown the goods in these monster pots that have been bet all streets and I go home feeling like barfing.
g) river calling is the most valueless play in NLHE

I throw it away. Afterwards in the chat he types:
Grndhg25: hmm
Grndhg25: u call 2800?
GnightMoon: insta
Grndhg25: i suck at tourneys
Grndhg25: missed soooo much value

So we'll never know for sure but right now I like the laydown.

I fold 77 in the SB to grndhg's UTG rz, I feel like he's gonna get away from almost anything if I flop a set, and outplay me if I don't.
Fold Q9o in the CO just don't want to screw around right now with no antes.
Fold ATo EP
Fold K2s "the wildebeest" on the button.
UTG limps another limps I make it 489 with AK UTG calls flop Qc7d4d C I bet 822 he calls turn an unbettable Qs C C river 9h he fires 2000, which is interesting and possibly callable but I fold.
Folds to SB who raises 300 with a shortish stack I just smoothcall AA again in the BB. Flop Qxx he bets 400 with 2700 behind I make it 999 he folds.
R ATo MP grndhg calls I already hate it flop Q88 I just check-fold content to let this guy outplay me and lose the minimum.
R 88 UTG all fold.
Get J8 for the third time on the button unopened, this time it's suited, I R and win blinds.
Administer walk with 63s table is playing tight

R QTo CO steal blinds.
R T9s MP next guy calls grndhg calls button squeezes but smallish with short stack I fold next guy folds grndhg pushes and gets called by KK, somehow grndhg has AA and wins. Throughout the tournament grndhg was putting ridiculous coolers on people and showing up with weird strong hands in spots you couldn’t put him on. There was just no way anyone else could have won this tournament with the way he was running, it was obviously destiny.
Fold A4s in SB to a button R
R 99 CO button RR me 3x to 1100 I have 3700 left. Normally I feel this is completely unfoldable but three things make me fold:
1) the structure of this tournament is so good I still feel thin plays are not worth it
2) this guy reraised the very last hand and had jacks, the 2nd straight reraise is usually the goods
3) I am a weak-tight scared wuss, we all know this
R AQ to 333 grndhg calls as usual, then someone goes allin for 2600 we both fold.
Button R to 330 I shove 44 in SB for 3200 this is the most marginal play I've made so far but it takes it.
EP R I slowplay and smoothcall AA for the third straight time. He bets the KQ7 flop I shove he folds.

Button R I shove for 9.5x the rz in BB with 55 another marginal one.
I R AQ in CO steal blinds.
A shortish stack R I RR AKs he shoves I call he has QQ I lose down to 1900.
Button R to 560 I shove QQ he calls with AK this time I win. 3700.
MP R I have KQo I have seen Hellmuth and Negreanu call in this spot with this stack but I fold.
EP R I fold AJo in BB.

LP R and button RR I stick the rest in with KK for a reminraise from the BB and double thru the button's 67 move gone bad.
Very next hand folds to me in SB I R with JJ grndhg immediately shoves me in for a bunch more I call he has AQ board is Jxxxx I have 15k suddenly!
R AQ steal blinds
Fold A7o in BB to a button R.
MP I RR with KK he folds.
SB limps I C Q6 BB AA8T8 board is checked down he wins with T7.
Fold 67s in SB to the button's R.
R QTs HJ steal blinds.
R AKs UTG steal blinds.
Administer a walk with K8.
UTG limps I limp A6s grndhg raises 4.5x UTG calls I fold.
R AhAc UTG grndhg calls flop is QTx all hearts I bet he folds.

R to 611 with 88 grndhg calls of course flop A73 which is pretty good I bet half pot he min raises I call turn A I check-fold to a large bet. I ask him to show a bluff and he says he would but he had auto-muck on.
Grndhg takes the tournament chip lead a few hands later. Just a complete nightmare seat.
R K9o CO (grndhg in BB) button obviously reraises I fold I have played tight but probably should have played even tighter.
I call a UTG R with 33, BB calls, flop A63 with two diamonds, UTG bets hard (2k), I tank and push for 10k, both fold.
Moved to new table thank God with A_theKevlar_2 to my direct left and Max Pescatori to his left, both with chips. This table worked out great for me as it was playing much more passive and reasonable, at least until batoelrob showed up later on.
In BB with A3o CO R and button call good spot for squeeze have not played a hand here but I fold.
Next hand RR a MP R with AJo and take it down.

DAT MOOSE R I RR Ad8d from CO he calls which sucks but the 2 diamond flop allows me to pot it (commit) after he checks and I win
Then DAT MOOSE R UTG and I smoothcall AK also in EP flop is 764 and I fold to a big bet.
R KQ EP button calls BB calls flop AdQd9h checked around turn Js C I check button makes a smallish bet I call river A check/check he has 54 I win.
Call an EP R with T9ss on button flop nothing in a 4 way pot and done with it.
Call an EP R with KJs after another call, we take the flop 5 handed, KK5 with two diamonds, pf rzer bets it I call everyone else out, turn 3 C C, river 3, he ck-folds to my 3/4 pot bet.
EP raises to 800 with 12k stack, I make it 2300 in SB with JJ intent on folding to a shove, he calls, we check the QQ7KA board all the way down I beat his 99.
DAT MOOSE who I have gotten into it a bit R to 800 I make it 2333 with KK and get called. Flop Q22 I take it with a bet.
Fold AJs in BB to a LP rz and reraise felt like the RRzer might be on a move but the stacks were bad for me to make a move. It warrants mentioning that this was the most aggressive poker tournament I have ever played in. It really did seem like 50% of the pots were reraised. Late position raises were suicide. This table was reasonable, until batoelrob showed up and started reraising everything in sight.
RR DAT MOOSE with AK he folds
R 97s MP Max calls on button flop T53 C C turn Q I check-fold

UTG R I call 98dd LP flop T9x one diamond he bets 2/3 pot I call. Turn A C C river 9 he bets half pot I rz 2.5x he reluctantly calls with AT poor bastard.
R the next two hands with QT and QJ and take both uncontested.
R UTG 87s BB calls I bet the AKx flop he calls I'm done with it luckily he bets the river when the flush gets there so I don't have to show down the hand.
Call a big stack's small R with 42s in the BB, check fold the K94 flop.
Next hand call a raise with two red jacks in the SB, BB calls, I bet out the 963 all spade flop they both fold.
R QJo EP button calls BB calls flop Jc4s2c BB checks I C button bets BB folds I raise 3x which is sort of committing against his stack and kind of a bad way to play the hand maybe. He folds.
R J9s EP steal blinds.
RR Moose's LP R with QQ, she calls, I bet a K94 flop she folds quickly.

Moose R UTG to 1500 with 16k stack I fold 55
Guy who R a ton R I defend BB with J8ss flop Ac6c6s CC turn 3s I check-fold to a 2/3 pot bet. Obviously the tightest possible option here turning a flush draw but when preflop raisers check A high flops vs the BB it seems stupid to try to take the pot away from them.
Halfrek R UTG with big stack I have KQo in SB good spot for resteal but also good spot for him to take a flop and outplay me so I fold.
R TT UTG button calls BB calls flop T98 with a flush draw I bet they both fold.
R QJcc MP BB calls flop Td3h2h C I bet 3/4 pot he calls. Turn Kd he checks. He has 16k behind maybe I should take the freebie nah screw it I bet 4k (half pot) he folds.

I was able to triple my stack at this table in a few levels without a major confrontation. I never would have been able to do this at the original table with grndhg to my left. I had position on the most aggressive player, DATMOOSE, and no one else wanted to screw with me. It's crucial in a poker tournament to find some equity somewhere along the line, spots where you can steal and bluff and take down uncontested pots. For me it was this last section of the tournament. You can't grind it forever. My grind game can compete with anyone's but that's not the way to build chips and make a run. Unfortunately, the wheels came off a bit at the beginning of the next level:

R first hand on button K3s SB calls leads 1/3 pot into me on AJx I just fold
R next two hands QJs and 66 and both times the BB RRs 3x and both times I fold
R Jd9d a couple hands later button calls I fire half pot on AhQh6h he calls I could bet the 8h turn but check he checks river 6 I check/fold to a smallish bet.
R 88 UTG finally they let me have one.
Fold the last 22 hands of the night including:
A8o in SB to a LP R
44 to Moose's R same situation as the 55 before
A9s to a giant sized raise

37,000 to end day one, just a hair below average, and pokered out.

I remember dmmikkel saying "ty Full Tilt" in the chat and I felt just the same way, just grateful Full Tilt had organized a tournament with such a fabulous structure.

We went out to Pearl Street that night and had a few beers. Play resumed the next day at 1 which was just about perfect, enough time to get refreshed but little enough time to stay in the zone.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I got 10th. 10th might be the most frustrating place in poker tournaments. I didn't make the final table. I didn't make a big score. I was in incredible position for the biggest result of my life with 12 left but I got coolered by the eventual champion and busted shortly after.

I was disappointed after, of course - these opportunities don't come up that often. But I think I played perfect or very close to it today, and I have no regrets. I didn't take any bad beats.

I've figured it out. I know how to play poker tournaments. It took me a long, long time, but I now know what to do. This was possibly the best structured MTT with the toughest field in online poker history. If I can make it deep here, I can make it deep in any no limit hold em poker tournament in the world.

I'll post the complete hand histories over the next few days. It was an incredible poker tournament, maybe the most enjoyable I've ever played. No one did anything stupid the whole second day. The guy who won it is a 200-400 NL behemoth. You could argue getting 10th in this event holds more respectability than getting 10th in the WSOP main event.

TheMasterJ33 went on an incredible rollercoaster, moving from the shortest stack with 78 left to the chip leader with 29 left to busted in 16th place. PiMaster took a cooler and got 26th. Certainly it was disappointing for none of us to make the final table after we were all positioned to do so, but I'm proud of all of us. And damn, it was so much fun.

I love poker. I need to take a break right now though, or I'll lose. I will try to avoid it until the Barcelona EPT, and play very little in September. I made it to where I want to be, strategically, in both cash games and tournaments. I'm there.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

FTOPS Event 12

I made it to day two of the FTOPS $2500 event, a monster two-day event with a first place prize of $400k, with an average stack. I was in a desperate state early but doubled up and then doubled up twice in two hands, then cruised to a fairly big stack, then lost some chips the last level. We're not quite in the money yet.

MastersJ33 and Pi are still in too, Pi with a nice sized stack and J with the shortest of the 78 left. Play resumes tomorrow at 1 PM Mountain.

I wrote down every hand I played but there might be some opponents who read this blog so I won't post them yet.

FTOPS Event 11

I made an entertaining and unexpected run in the FTOPS $200 6-handed limit hold em tournament on gamblegambel's account, eventually finishing 18th out of 1171 entrants. This was arguably the best structured FTOPS event thus far, and it was tons of fun to play. I don't pretend to know how to play high-level limit hold em, but I have a stunning record of success in LHE tournaments.

I basically played solid and ran good down to the final hundred players. At that point Adam Friedman started consulting me and "the game was on." I was clearly outclassed in the later stages of the tournament but Adam recommended a few monster bluffs that worked. It was interesting to watch the field steadily get tougher and tougher as it got deeper in the tournament.

A few of the more interesting hands from before Adam got on the phone with me, most of which I probably grossly misplayed:

Dealt to gamblegambel [Ah 3c]
rayjh1 raises to 1,000
BLAKE39 folds
Chinese_Torture folds
badbeatninja folds
getrythm folds
gamblegambel calls 500
*** FLOP *** [As Qh Ts]
gamblegambel checks
rayjh1 bets 500
gamblegambel calls 500
*** TURN *** [As Qh Ts] [4c]
gamblegambel checks
rayjh1 bets 1,000
gamblegambel calls 1,000
*** RIVER *** [As Qh Ts 4c] [3d]
gamblegambel checks
rayjh1 bets 1,000
gamblegambel raises to 2,000
rayjh1 raises to 3,000
gamblegambel has 15 seconds left to act
gamblegambel is sitting out
gamblegambel has timed out
gamblegambel folds
Uncalled bet of 1,000 returned to rayjh1
gamblegambel has returned
rayjh1 mucks
rayjh1 wins the pot (9,250)

Dealt to gamblegambel [6s 4s]
rayjh1 folds
BLAKE39 calls 500
Chinese_Torture folds
badbeatninja calls 500
getrythm calls 250
gamblegambel checks
badbeatninja: direct obv
*** FLOP *** [9c 2s 5s]
getrythm bets 500
gamblegambel raises to 1,000
BLAKE39 folds
badbeatninja folds
getrythm calls 500
*** TURN *** [9c 2s 5s] [Kd]
getrythm checks
gamblegambel checks
*** RIVER *** [9c 2s 5s Kd] [Qh]
getrythm checks
gamblegambel checks
badbeatninja: i've played two satellites all year
*** SHOW DOWN ***
gamblegambel shows [6s 4s] King Queen high
getrythm shows [6c 6d] a pair of Sixes
getrythm wins the pot (4,000) with a pair of Sixes

Dealt to gamblegambel [Kc 9s]
getrythm folds
gamblegambel raises to 1,200
rayjh1 folds
BLAKE39 raises to 1,800
Chinese_Torture folds
badbeatninja folds
gamblegambel calls 600
*** FLOP *** [4h Kh 9h]
gamblegambel checks
BLAKE39 checks
*** TURN *** [4h Kh 9h] [Ks]
gamblegambel checks
BLAKE39 bets 1,200
gamblegambel raises to 2,400
BLAKE39 has 15 seconds left to act
BLAKE39: u donts gots a K
BLAKE39 raises to 3,600
badbeatninja has been disconnected
gamblegambel raises to 4,800
badbeatninja has reconnected
BLAKE39 calls 1,200
*** RIVER *** [4h Kh 9h Ks] [Jc]
gamblegambel bets 1,200
BLAKE39 raises to 2,400
gamblegambel raises to 3,600
BLAKE39 calls 360, and is all in
Uncalled bet of 840 returned to gamblegambel
*** SHOW DOWN ***
gamblegambel shows [Kc 9s] a full house, Kings full of Nines
BLAKE39 mucks
gamblegambel wins the pot (19,620) with a full house, Kings full of Nines
BLAKE39 stands up

Dealt to gamblegambel [6s Ah]
rayjh1 folds
Wall131TCI-I folds
Chinese_Torture raises to 1,600
badbeatninja folds
ZaDom calls 1,200
badbeatninja: my cards are drunk.
gamblegambel calls 800
*** FLOP *** [Js Ad 9c]
ZaDom bets 800
gamblegambel raises to 1,600
Chinese_Torture has 15 seconds left to act
Chinese_Torture: oh boy
Chinese_Torture folds
ZaDom calls 800
*** TURN *** [Js Ad 9c] [Ts]
ZaDom checks
gamblegambel checks
*** RIVER *** [Js Ad 9c Ts] [Qd]
ZaDom bets 1,600
gamblegambel has 15 seconds left to act
gamblegambel folds
Uncalled bet of 1,600 returned to ZaDom
ZaDom mucks
ZaDom wins the pot (8,000)

Dealt to gamblegambel [6h 6c]
Chips Reese folds
Chinese_Torture raises to 2,400
badbeatninja folds
ZaDom folds
gamblegambel folds
rayjh1 folds
Uncalled bet of 1,200 returned to Chinese_Torture
Chinese_Torture mucks
Chinese_Torture wins the pot (3,000)

Dealt to gamblegambel [7d 7s]
badbeatninja folds
gamblegambel: nh
ZaDom raises to 2,400
gamblegambel raises to 3,600
rayjh1 folds
Chinese_Torture folds
ZaDom calls 1,200
*** FLOP *** [Qc 8d 6c]
ZaDom checks
gamblegambel bets 1,200
ZaDom raises to 2,400
gamblegambel has 15 seconds left to act
gamblegambel folds
Uncalled bet of 1,200 returned to ZaDom
ZaDom mucks
ZaDom wins the pot (11,400)


Someone told me the FTOPS $2500 event was at 1 PM Saturday, and I said, oh crap, 1 PM. And we laughed, and I thought, man, I'm a full-scale degen.

And I'm loving it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Right Way to Gamble

Gamblegambel, BlueFlare, and the MasterJ33 are staying at my house this week. Every day has been a classic so far. I'm trying to teach them what I believe is the right way to gamble - you make sure to get everything else squared away before you sit down to play a session. Generally we've been playing poker at night and playing games, exercising, and eating during the day. I've felt so relaxed when I finally get down to playing.

I'm getting closer and closer in tournament poker. I've taken a number of critical beats late in big events, but I continue to run good in cash games so I haven't been sweating it too much.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

End of an Era

Last Wednesday the World Poker Tour aired its final new episode on the Travel Channel. It was also the show’s 100th episode. And it was also its biggest tournament ever, April’s WPT Championship at the Bellagio, with more prize money and a higher first place prize (almost $4 million) than any WPT tournament before it.

For Season XI, the WPT will move on to The Game Show Network, a somewhat obscure cable channel relegated to the mid-100s on my own digital cable box. The WPT helped popularize the modern jolt of televised poker. In fact, the WPT was the first American show with hole-card cameras, and the first to use the groundbreaking “lipstick camera” method which really projected the feeling of seeing the players’ cards and decisions through their own eyes.

Since its inception, the WPT has been my favorite televised poker program. Last week’s episode was a classic, with monstrous tension, entertaining characters, and life-changing prizes.

Unless you have the rare peculiarity such as Guy Laliberte, this week’s episode’s requisite entrepreneur extraordinaire (last week’s featured And1’s co-founder Seth Berger). In addition to the unique spectacular stories like Laliberte’s, you have the prototypical Old-School Non-Famous Pro, this week’s being Mike Wattel of Phoeniz, AZ. You have the Big Name Pro, in this case Carlos Mortensen. You have the Entertaining Weird Guy Pro, Kirk Morrison this episode. You have The Amateur, this week being Paul Lee. And you have the Veteran Asian Badass, Tim Phan being the obvious fit here.

No other poker show is as adept at creating these sort of characters, and no other poker show sensationalizes the game as efficiently. The WPT is hosted by the best poker announcing duo in the business, Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. No one provides better dichotomous analysis for experienced players and casual viewers than Sexton. The underrated VVP uses an entertain-at-all-costs approach that rarely disappoints.

I believe the WPT was one of the biggest reasons for poker’s explosion. I can honestly say it changed my life, and I’m sad to see it relegated to cable obscurity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Karma Theory

I played another great tournament in the third FTOPS event, a $216 pot limit hold em. I was a big stack most of the way without playing a big pot after the first break, but got involved in an unlucky tangle and lost a 40 percenter then got kings cracked in a 4-way pot with a desperate stack that couldn't protect the hand and finished a disappointing 109th place for a 2x buyin payout.

I think the only step left for me in tournament poker is to improve my karma. I do believe my strategy right now is approaching the level of the very best players. It's not quite there yet but it's definitely close. I'm a huge believer in the karma theory of poker: players do better when they have positive karma working for them. Every major score I've ever made in poker tournaments came from a positive karmic foundation. Conversely, I've seen some great players with bad karma struggle mightily.

So I will be donating $5,000 to charity on Monday, giving 10% of my tournament profit to charity through the end of September, and donating blood. I'm not sure which charity or charities I will give to, and would appreciate suggestions in the comments section of this blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

FTOPS Event #1

I'm extremely fired up for the FTOPS V. I have a bet with TheMasterJ33, PiMaster, and GambleGambel on our performance, with the winner receiving a FTOPS main event seat and 10% of the other players' action in that main event. For the first event, I decided to focus on just the one tournament and write down every hand I played.

We started with 3000 chips.

show up 8 mins late after swimming and then a mini wireless fiasco
first hand I am in BB, MP R to 60 I RR to 234 with 83o in BB and show when he folds
R button to 56 with K7s steal blinds
R cutoff to 56 with K6s BB calls Q96 check/check turn T he pots I fold
Very next hand call Panamatony R with 96dd another call BB calls board of AA6KQ is checked all the way down 88 wins.

Panamatony R to 90 call CO with 76ss flop A52 I get disconnected and have to fold to a cont bet which I would have anyways
Next hand Panamatony R to 90 I RR to 277 with KK folds
Limp 77 2nd pos some limps button R to 180 I decide to call others fold flop 653 I think a long time and check he checks turn 6 I think again and check
he checks river 4 I bet 2/3 pot he folds.
Panamatony limps SB R to 99 with A8s in BB he calls flop J93 ck ck turn 7 he bets hard I fold. Maybe a bad line here.
R SB to 99 with A9o BB folds
Limp 87o on button behind UTG and one other limp flop AT5 someone bets and gets called I fold

R QhQ to 111 MP button calls. Flop K32 two hearts I check he bets pot I call. Turn Jh C C. River low heart I C he cks 43s.
Next hand R AK all folds I show.
Next hand R K9s EP button calls flop Axx I bet he folds
Next hand fold 65s UTG
R K4s on button folds
Panamatony R to 120 HJ I RR to 366 CO with QJo he calls. Flop A64 he cks I bet 439 he tanks forever, into the time bank, then calls, which looks either weak or gigantic. Turn Q he C I pot bet to put him allin he folds quick. 4679.

77 in BB a buncha limpers I C flop A85 C fold.
Fold A6o MP
BB 53s MP limp button limps I C. Flop A64 I take a stab of 100 button calls. Turn Q I decide to CR allin (he is somewhat short) he cks river K I give up and C he wins with 43o.

Fold J9o UTG going quiet here.
R 82o on button to 166 blinds are supertight. BB minraises me. I am getting a terrific price obv but can't afford to show this one down and it's such a rag I fold.
GetPWN3D joins the table to my right and immediately wins a big race to over 5k.
2nd pos limps fold A9o MP
PWN3D R UTG guy calls flop A92 he bets 60% pot guy calls turn K he bets 60% pot gets raised small and shoves, guy calls with 99, PWN3D has KQo!
4248 at the break

Table playing tight/straightforward
Fold J7s 2nd pos
Fold K6o in BB to a 3x rz from the SB
Fold ATo to a UTG min rz and a call
Fold A7o 3rd pos
Fold 96s 2nd pos
Fold T7o in BB to PWN3D's CO R
R T9o on button BB makes a small RR I make a weak fold

Fold 98o MP just not that much to win right now
R AQs to 266 in 2nd pos BB who is a donk min RR me I call flop 652 he bets 400 with 1k behind I have seen some pros make a shove here but I fold.
The donk raises an extreme nit UTG limper min and I fold T2o in the BB, the UTG nit reraises small of course.
Fold K3s CO, easing into tight mode here.

R to 289 UTG with AJo MP repops me this has been a rough day.
Complete SB with 96o BB C flop QT9 bet 156 he folds
R button to 277 with T8o they let me take this one
Next hand fold 97o CO
R to 288 EP with AQ the supernit RR me this is really getting annoying I fold. Warrants mentioning I haven't once defended to a reraise.
Fold T8s UTG
Fold Q6o in BB to SB R

Fold JTo CO in gear 1 now with ~17 BBs and no antes
Button limps I complete SB with A6s BB C flop JJ3 I fire half pot both fold

Guy shoves for 470 total I fold Q3o in SB.
Moved to new table, sickeningly UTG after just going through the blinds. Lose them again and down to 2200
Dodge a huge bullet here with KQo on the button, some guy limps, then there's a shove and a call from the CO, then limper calls, it's KK vs 55 vs AA for the CO, I shove if CO limps or even if it's limped to me
Fold JTo MP not time to make a stand yet with 11 BBs and no ante
Fold A5s next hand
Fold 33 UTG next hand
SB shoves me in for my 2200 in the BB I instacall with 88 he has a frustrating J9o and even more frustrating flops a jack.

The next one I play will probably be tomorrow's $200 pot limit hold em event.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Warning

Today I played some of the best tournament poker of my life, but I ran poorly and didn't make much happen. I believe I am turning a corner in online tournament poker as we speak, and am issuing this warning to the rest of the online poker community: GnightMoon will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming FTOPS and other online tournaments. Watch for a major score soon.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Good Day

I woke up a little after ten, late enough to feel completely refreshed, but still within the zone where I don't feel like a degenerate. I fired up my computer, checked my e-mail and a couple blogs, as I usually do at the start of every day. PiMaster called me to talk about his comment on my last blog, which served as an inspiration/preview for the rest of the day.

I posted on the Beer Blog and finished off a mix I had been working on for the Bag. I ate strawberry yogurt with strawberries for breakfast and watched a little bit of The Sand Pebbles, a movie I'm chopping away at On Demand.

I played a one-hour session of online poker and it went extremely well, jolting me out of a recent funk. I avoided marginal situations and made some big hands.

I bottled beer with Natalie in the afternoon, an orange IPA we're entering in a contest at the Southern Sun.

I drove down Bear Mountain Drive to my parents' house through a sunshower. When I got there, we stared at a vibrant rainbow for a while. I helped prepare a wonderful meal - grilled beef and vegetables, along with corn-on-the-cob, pasta salad, iced tea, rhubarb pie, and ice cream cake. The older I get, the more excited I get about making and eating food.

It was my sister's birthday (yesterday technically). She's developed into a respectable person, she really has.

I get along with my parents. For a while our relationship was functional only. Now it's quite pleasant.

My sister, and me getting along with my parents, makes me think, things can change. People and relationships change. There's always hope for us all.

I went to Harpo's and met Jacob and Anne for a couple beers. They didn't have Maharajah on tap like they did two months ago, but they still had some good stuff. We watched Barry Bonds ground out to first.

During the drive, KCUV played both "Let the Day Begin" by The Call and "Save it For Later" by The English Beat.

I went up to North Boulder and played a drinking game of UNO with a bunch of friends. I won once.

I didn't really do anything today, but I did enough to at least fool myself into thinking I was productive.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

2007 WSOP Recap, Part Four: State of the Moon Address

Zoned87 (10:13:55 PM): sucks man. Yeah do what u want... im still looking for what i want to do in life. Its funny though... you probably feel the same way. I think that 50 dollars is nothing and to my friends is a ton of money. I can see how bad other people have it and how good I have it. But I think your status in poker is rediculous to even me. I want to be that good some day. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want you to keep playing poker. I'd hate to see that money won by someone else :/
Zoned87 (10:14:55 PM): and of course everyone asks me for money and I hate it, but I always seem to have the urge to ask you for money.
Zoned87 (10:15:12 PM): psh everyone wants what they can't have
Zoned87 (10:15:17 PM): or don't have
Zoned87 (10:15:29 PM): makes me wonder what im doing in my life

shaniacattack888 (1:12:56 PM): It's just a way of life that works for guys like us
shaniacattack888 (1:12:57 PM): accept it

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin to make a livin and doin the best I can
- Allman Brothers, "Ramblin' Man"


The other night I was struggling to fall asleep so I tried to concentrate on something that would make me feel content and peaceful. There were only two things I could think of: fantasy football, and my blog.

I’m in kind of a tough spot here. I’m scared and worried and distrustful. The future is murky. I don’t know anything about where I’m going to be, personally and professionally.

Before I start discussing my present and future, a quick recap of the past to explain where I’m at (with a little help from my favorite movie - clicking the links will play an mp3 on your computer, so be careful at work or whatever):

March: I returned to Boulder after a fruitless and emotionally draining stretch on the tournament circuit. I played a lot of online cash games and found them to be more difficult than ever. I ran badly, lost confidence, and questioned both my ability and the ability of most players to make it as a professional poker player in the long run. I basically decided to retire as a full-time pro and focus on some different things, especially trying to start a brewery.

April: My girlfriend Laura and I broke up. Laura is going to grad school in Boston in the fall and lives in Vermont. We were at a point where we either had to make a monster commitment (such as me moving to Boston) or stop dating.

May: Two of the most important members of the brewery team move to Steamboat Springs for the summer.

June: I make a final table at the World Series of Poker in my first event of the summer for $68k, then go the rest of the WSOP (six events and $23k) without a cash.

I returned home from the WSOP obsessed with poker. During and after the WSOP, I crushed the online cash games almost too effortlessly. I declared in chatboxes that I was the best player on the site and challenged anyone to match my results. I told my friends I could only lose to enormous coolers and bad beats. I played a ton and constantly fiended to play more. I had railbirds giving me props. I planned to log a lot of hours this summer, and essentially return to the world of professional poker.

I then fell on my face and lost $12k in three days. This seems to happen every time I decide to “get serious” and log a ton of hours online. It just doesn’t work for me when I play full-time. It never has. Every poker slump I’ve ever had came out of a prolonged period of intense play. I’ve concluded that I cannot be a full-time professional poker player.

I went to Steamboat Springs last week to get away, take a look at the town, and see what my partners were up to. They’re in good shape. I think they’re passionate about the project and they’re going to make it work. But

This is not the one for me. I question my ability to work business day in and day out. I question my ability to do anything day in and day out, actually. I don’t think I want to live in Steamboat Springs. I don’t think I would want my distribution brewery to be located in Steamboat Springs. There may be other opportunities later in my life to open a brewery. There certainly will be if I want. I’d really like to be an investor more than anything though, I think.

I’ve learned a lot about brewing and business the last few months. Beer will always be a big part of my life. I’m not certain I want it to be the biggest part of my life, though, and I think I’d better be certain before making a can’t-turn-back commitment.

I love poker. That should be pretty obvious to anyone who reads this blog. I’m obsessed with the game. I don’t view it as a long-term career, though. I have no desire to be a pro in ten years. Probably not in five, either. I feel like I (and others) would have a hard time respecting myself if playing cards was my identity.

I’m better at poker than ever before, both tournaments and cash games. I enjoy it a ton, as much as anything I do. It remains an efficient way to make a living. The average player is much better now than three years ago though, and will only continue to get better. It’s hard to say how the games will develop in the future. I can’t imagine things getting much better, but it’s easy to predict it will get tougher.

I’ve also recently realized how much I enjoy other professional poker players. I generally don’t care for people too much, but I really think the population of poker pros is a one of the most interesting, diverse, intelligent, and fun samples you can find in society. Maybe it’s just cause I have something in common with them, but I feel like the pros I know have more to offer socially and intellectually than the average bear. The only group I can remember enjoying as much was the would-be journalists working on the high school paper. I actually found a group of people I like, which really is something for me. I hope I’m always friends with these people, even if I don’t share their profession.

I’ve now been a poker professional, more or less, for two years. It’s been my primary (only) source of income for three years. I’ve made a lot of money early – more than anyone I know my age from high school or college. I’ve compiled a respectable record of cashes and final tables in major tournaments.

Yet I consider my career a failure, thus far. I expected to be one of the best. I’m not. That tournament record doesn’t look so hot when one considers the buyins, which, in my case, are greater than the winnings. I’m as solid and consistent a winner as they come in the online cash games, but I’m playing the same stakes I was two years ago. I don’t seem to be going anywhere fast in poker, and it seems I’m nearing my ceiling – and it isn’t all that high.

I feel I’m halfway into a Jean Claude Van Damme movie called “Unfinished Business” or something. If I left poker now and never returned, I would always feel a deep dissatisfaction with how my career went. There is a mountaintop that I can see, that I have never stood upon. I will need to stand upon that mountain to feel satisfied with my poker career.

Conquering other aspects of life might be even more challenging.

Finding a girl is not going to be easy. Laura is the only girlfriend I’ve ever had. I’m not bad with girls, but I don't meet many. I’m shy. Most of my friends have girlfriends, but not many girl friends. I need to find some ways to meet girls.

During the next few months, I suppose I’ll keep doing the same stuff I’ve done the last few. I’ll play some cards. I’ll brew some beer. I’ll hike some mountains. I’ll read some business books. I’ll do some writing. I’ll get involved with some community activities which will hopefully help with everything in my life I’m trying to improve.

I hope to spend much of the fall working on a project with a couple other pro poker players. The project has been in the works for a few months now, but hasn’t moved past the point of discussion. We have the desire, creativity, and ability to make it happen, but laziness and disorganization (a pro poker player’s most frequent bedfellows) have prevented it from taking flight. If and when we can get our shit together and get it off the ground, I’ll blog about it.

In a couple weeks, the Gambler and Hostile Blue are coming to Boulder for a week I like to call “Camp Moon.” The FTOPS V will be running and we’ll be taking it pretty seriously. We’ll probably play every day and my house will once again be a professional poker environment.

I’m going to Europe in late August or early September, meeting up with a couple of my oldest friends. There will be poker. There will be beer, especially at Oktoberfest. There will be time to think, and drink, and write, and then I’ll probably do the same back in Boulder during the fall.

July Top 15

15. Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone
14. Robert Plant - I'm in the Mood (For a Melody)
13. The Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping Up to Boston
12. AC/DC - Shot Down in Flames
11. The Eagles - The Last Resort

10. The Allman Brothers - Ramblin' Man
9. Michael Nyman - The Heart Asks Pleasure First (Theme from The Piano)
8. Feist - 1234
7. James Blunt - So Long Jimmy
6. Marcy Playground - Sex and Candy

5. The Pretenders - My City Was Gone
4. The Rolling Stones - Dead Flowers
3. Van Morrison - Dweller on the Threshold
2. Cracker - Low

Song of the Month: The Jayhawks - Blue