Archive Jul 2007: nath

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What I've been up to and will be up to

Quick recap of my last week...

-This is my third week being ranked in the PocketFives tournament player rankings. I've moved up to #89 this week. The rankings are updated every Wednesday and can be found here.
-Speaking of the P5s rankings, they've recently introduced a sortable feature which separates rankings by state and country. As my home is still "officially" Houston, I was pleased to discover that I was the 4th ranked online tournament player in Texas. They wrote a feature on us last week: A Closer Look: God Bless Texas. On a side note, I do think it's kind of funny that I've been ranked now, when my tournament volume is relatively low. I think I would move up higher and faster if I played a lot of them, but they drive me nuts. And I like to travel. If I was grinding at the pace I was for the first half of 2006, I probably would be ranked even higher.
-While I didn't play much poker while I was in Houston, I still found time to play a few tournaments. None of those went well, but (for reasons I don't even remember) I decided to fill some time with 30/60 limit hold 'em. I caught a huge heater early on (making something like $8800 in 500-odd hands) and decided to stick with it. My winrate has cooled down, but I'm still turning a steady profit. I think my aggression and hand reading skills translate really well to shorthanded limit.

I'm in Louisiana now, so my social life is going to be mostly nonexistent for the next couple of weeks. I hope to translate this into lots of poker and writing. I'm trying to make some good money in time for the new FTOPS and the Turning Stone Empire State Hold 'Em Championships, which are both full of events that cater very well to my style of play:
The FTOPS schedule
The Empire State Championships schedule

OK, time to relax and call it an evening. More tomorrow.

been a while since i wrote

Sorry for that, but I was in the middle of getting things together to leave Las Vegas. I wasn't playing much poker anyway, so there wasn't really anything interesting to report.

I flew out of Las Vegas Friday night and returned to Houston. I haven't been in a couple of months and thought I'd see some friends; however, many of the people I knew here are now gone, and not that many of the other people know I'm here. And I lost my phone in Las Vegas, so I didn't have any of my numbers when I replaced it. So I'm just sort of bumming around... I have a few books, perhaps I'll read them while I'm here.

I played most of today, but I wasn't feeling well and I had commensurate results in the Sunday tournaments. I can't really identify specific plays I thought were bad, but in general things just didn't break my way-- I lost all the races that were for big chunks of my stack; I made a couple of moves with light holdings at people who were playing too aggressively, and they happened to have hands each time.

Sundays don't seem to agree with me.

I think I'm going to take a few days off from poker while I'm in Houston. I can play poker anywhere, but I should be using this time to visit the friends I still have in this city, go to my favorite places, etc. In a few days I'm going to visit my family, and while I don't prioritze poker over them, they're all early risers and I'm not so I should have plenty of time by myself to play.

When I play again, I'm going to be playing more cash games than I had previously done. The high variance in tournaments can be frustrating, and the nature of living by the big score encourages being lavish or wasteful with the money when it does arrive. (This certainly wasn't helped by living in Las Vegas, surrounded by plenty of people willing to party and gamble and plenty of establishments ready to take as much of your money as you'll let them.)

I want to, at the least, always be able to make a consistent living from this. And that just won't happen through tournaments. There's more money in cash, and if I keep the discipline to play at stakes I can beat and afford until I have the bankroll and experience needed to move up, I think I can be pretty successful at this.

We'll see either way, eh?

what's next

I decided not to enter the Bellagio Cup main event. I played a $1500 supersatellite for it Tuesday night and after busting with JJ < AK in the first half hour decided it wasn't meant to be, and as good as I thought the event would be, I didn't think it was worth another $10,000. A well-run tournament with an ideal field size doesn't make up for variance I can't afford right now and burnout.

I've just had enough of live poker this month. The frustration of tournament play is only exacerbated when you're playing for twelve hours, or multiple days, only to miss on a big score, instead of just a few hours, online, while you're probably playing some other games at the same time. It's been fun on the whole, but like most fun, it gets tiring, and time off is necessary.

So that time has just about come, for me. I'll be heading South for a little while, seeing friends and family, resting up, and figuring out where I'm headed next.

I'm going to be playing more cash games, too. I haven't played any in the last few months, but I want to learn them, and get back to playing them regularly, which is how I started in poker originally, long ago. I know I Can make more money at this, and this time I'm going to take the simple and consistent approach-- grind it up, less shot-taking, less wild play, more fundamentals.

I may hit a couple of live events coming up soon, too-- Turning Stone in mid-August and Aruba late September are the early favorites. I don't think I want to get off the tournament circuit completely, but I do want to not have to hope for a big score to keep going.

Anyway, it's been a pretty busy and hectic month, so while I have a lot of stories, I haven't had the time to tell them. Once I get away from Vegas, I'll have more about my time there, as well as a couple of other things I've been working on related to theory.

Not long for the main event

It was over a short five and a half hours in.

Some highlights:

-Playing far too many pots, I swing early up to 22k down to 19k up to 24k down to 17k. My downswings being bigger than my upswqings would normally be a cause for concern, but much of that was explained by...
-...being dealt 16 pocket pairs, winning a total of five pots with them, and flopping one set. (and about five hours in, the numbers were fourteen, three, and zero.) I won the blinds twice with KK, flopped a set with KK and won the pot on the flop, won with 99 unimproved, won with QQ with a reraise... and lost with QQ, 77x3, 66x3, 55, 44x2, and 22.
-The first QQ hand: Brendan (2+2's CardSharpCook) makes it 300 in MP; a middle aged player who was pretty loose preflop and didn't seem to care about the money called, then the button (a pretty straightforward / passive player) made it 1200 on the button. I had queens in the small blind. I don't like any of my options, so I call. The BB then cold-overcalls! Brendan and the other caller call. The flop is AJ9 and I turbomuck when the button bets 2000. The BB then makes it 5000, and everyone folds-- the button shows the other two queens, the BB shows his three jacks, and the other two claim to have folded AK. BB lost a lot of value here. (And as I would later discover, he didn't need a hand as strong as JJ to cold-overcall preflop.)
-Later, at 100/200, I limp K7s UTG (I'd been playing pretty loosely and limping a lot even in EP, so this wasn't unusual and I expected to be fine postflop), the loose player from the last hand made it 700, and I called. Flop is KJ2, check/check. Turn 7, I check because I know he's betting anything he has, he bets 1200, I make it 3400, he shoves, I call, he shows AA. And I once again run into an 85-15 as an ace hits the river. I do not dodge bullets.
-I'm at 5650 chips now coming out of the break. The big blind is not back yet, so when it folds to me I raise to 1025 (at 200/400). Folds to the small blind, who double-checks his cards, tanks, asks me how many chips I have left, tanks again, and after a minute or so says, "I probably should do it, but I can't...' and folds AKo faceup.
-Speaking of folding AK: last level UTG (tight and pretty passive preflop) opened to 500, and the loose MP I doubled up with folded and accidentally exposed AKo (yeah, you tell me why). The SB called, and the flop came AKx. Now, this could have led to a brilliant game of chicken where SB and UTG "know" the other can't have much, so they start making moves at the pot and at each other (sort of like the Yeti theorem's schizophrenic cousin), but instead they checked it down; SB showed 99 and UTG showed QQ. God, SB banging at that pot would have been sexy.
-I chip back up, winning a nice pot when I get minraised by 66 on a 743Q6 board after I lead into 4 people with Q5. Not long after, I double up when I defend my BB vs. Brendan's raise with 7d4d (basically planning to check-raise any flop that hits me). The flop is 977hh; I make it 4k with 3800 back (yeah, I know it looks stupid, but I go with whatever seems right at the moment to me) after he bets 1500. He calls, the turn is the Th (gross, can I EVER get a blank?) and I have to shove in the rest; he has JhTx and this time I dodge however many outs I had.
-Kinda drift along after that until my bustout hand. The QQ on AKx guy limps, and a guy I want to say is a Frenchman in his early-to-mid thirties, but I have no idea how accurate either of those depictions are, makes it 1500. I'd been watching him since he got to the table and expected him to do this with almost anything, and he'd been raising limpers frequently. So I decided to pop him with anything decent from the BB. I look at Th8h and make it 5100. Now the limper looks back, asks "what's the total bet?", gets the total of 5100, and eventually calls. (OK, I get some warning bell "WTF" signs in my head, but I just can't imagine what he has here.) The other guy folds.

Now, he obviously has a strong holding, but I seriously doubt he rolls like this with aces or kings. So my plan for the flop becomes "Shove any piece and hope he folds". Not well-thought-out, but I have about a pot-sized bet left; I can't give up on it that easily.

The flop comes KT5. I move all in. He calls. He has AK. The turn and river are queens and i'm out.

Yeah, my bustout hand looks stupid in hindsight, but I don't think it's too bad, and a willingness and capability to make plays like that is part of the reason I'm successful in the first place. If I was wrong this time, well, I can figure out why, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And even so, I expect most of his calling range there to be in the JJ-99 range, meaning he's going to fold that flop a significant percentage of the time.

So that's the end of my World Series of Poker.

However: Tomorrow the Bellagio Cup begins. I have to decide if I want to enter another 10k event or not, but the allure is always there. That dream of "Oh, THIS time I will spike a big tournament score!" I just don't know-- my excitement for the game and optimism of knowing that i always have as good or better a chance than anyone in the field is tempered by my pessism of the reality of tournaments and the long time that can go between scores. They can be the proverbial cocaine in the rat feeder. Ah, variable reinforcement.

My luck is turning around just in time for the main event

I wasn't even going to enter the Stars 100k until my roommates talked me into it and I registered a minute before it started.

I took down almost 24k for first. Now I'm hitting the strip. I recommend the Petrossian Paris at the Bellagio. Their mojitos are amazing.
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