Friday, August 1, 2014

New league

So the bar league I normally play in has been drying up. The owners made a big cut back recently, deciding to no longer sponsor quarterly or year end tournaments. That pretty much put an end to my playing in that league.

I've been meaning to check out another bar, Donohue's, as I went to high school with the wife of the owner, and have always heard good things about the bar. I had recently been in there for my 25th high school reunion and really liked the place. It turns they are part of the Big O poker league, and have tournaments on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I went in on Tuesday and was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. They had what looked to be at least 4 full tables. There was a good mix of players. My first impression was that I was at a fairly soft table. I had picked up a few good pots by the first break, including dragging a big one on the river uncontested, with one of my favorite hands, 3/5 off-suit. The blinds went up seemingly quicker than I'm used to, but that may be due to having fuller tables. I had a couple of big pocket pairs in consecutive hands when I was getting low on chips. The first hand I raised with pocket jacks, when I flopped a set on a board of KJ3. I bet out, I think all-in, and took the pot. The next hand I had pocket kings and went all in pre-flop, after several people had limped in, to add about 50% to my stack.

Another important hand when I was at risk with a short stack, I had pocket 3's (I think I was UTG) and went all-in. An aggressive player to my right who had recently joined the table called, apparently due to the pot odds. He flipped over 74 of diamonds. I really had to sweat when the flop came 68T with two diamonds. The turn was another 6, and the river was the only diamond he didn't want to see, a 3, to give me full house. I manage to hold on and make the final table, picking up some double ups to stay in the game. I ended up going out in 6th on a hand with 4 of us all in.The four hands were Q8, who I'm pretty sure was all-in in the big blind, AK, to my right, me with AQo, and a pair of 8s on the button. I was down to 2 BB, with a good hand that I had to call, but hindsight says that I probably shouldn't be calling an all-in with that, as I'll likely be behind or drawing thin, with few, if any live cards, as was the case.

I still feel pretty good about my play, especially outlasting as many as I did. It's good practice for when I eventually hit the casino tournaments again. I will definitely be back next week!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Brain teaser

One of the poker bloggers I follow posted a fascinating poker puzzle here:

Poker Quiz | Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog

I worked on it a while, in my head, with a deck of cards, and even trying to write it out, but I finally broke down and googled it. Turns out there's actually two solutions, which I found here


Monday, June 9, 2014

WSOP and other stuff

Lots of stuff

I'm still here and still playing. I've started several posts since my last update, but I've never gotten around to finishing them up and posting.

I ended up winning 3 quarterly tournaments in a row last year. I finished 2nd in the final quarterly, and busted 3rd in the year end.

This year started out well, and I finished 2nd in the first quarterly, however I haven't been playing like I should be lately. I recently downloaded a poker improvement hypnosis mp3. Hopefully listening to it will help me refocus and get back to my winning ways. Last week I did feel that I played much better, even though I still haven't won a session in months. I'm working on going back to the basics, focusing on better hand selection and playing more aggressively. I also plan to go through my books and read up on short handed play.

My wife and I were hoping to go to Vegas later this year for a long weekend, but it appears to be somewhat out of our budget, so we're planning a road trip to somewhere closer. There will still be poker involved, and I'm planning on playing in one tournament there. I also want play one or two of the Sunday tournaments at the Horseshoe here in town before then, as well as some cash games. I'm strongly considering playing $3/6 limit to build my backroll, to avoid the fluxuations of no limit.

I've been following the updates on this year, which I didn't really do last year. I was up late Sunday railbirding online for a blogger I follow, <a href=">MemphisMOJO</a>, who finished 3rd in the senior event. While I didn't stay up to see the finish, I was excited to follow most of the end of the $1500 Razz event, when Ted Forrest defeated Phil Hellmuth for his 6th bracelet and 2nd in Razz. I've also been following Daniel Negraneau, in particular his 2nd place finish in the no limit 2-7 event.     

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back to back?

I've been working on this post for a couple of weeks, but keep forgetting to copy it from my thumb drive to my laptop to post it. I meant to last night, as I came home from the bar early, because there weren't enough people to play the first session of the bar league.

I was really hoping to play and build up my early lead from last week. I won the first session, earning points for a straight flush as well, and finished 3rd in the 2nd session.

After a decent 2nd quarter, I started the quarterly tournament 2nd in chips, behind my "nemesis", Tim. I finished with just over 300 points, over twice the points of the rest of the field, but he finished about 130 points ahead of me.  Each point is worth $100 in chips, which translated into 13000 in chips.  However, I was feeling very confident that I would win. It wouldn't be the first time I won two quarterly tournaments in one year. Tim has also done it, but I'm fairly certain his weren't back to back.

We started with only five players, with a 6th on the way from a dart tournament at the bar's other location. One of the other qualifiers was the cook, and it was pretty obvious he wasn't happy about not being able to play.  The remaining three qualifiers were drop-ins, who had less than 50 points, which practically wasn't enough to make it worth showing up anyway.

Trying to remember how several of the next hands play out makes me think that I need to take notes during the quarterly and year-end tournaments, where it's not as rushed as during the regular weekly games. I took notes during a weekly session once, and a few people asked what I was writing, and it wasn't easy to keep up while playing 4 and 5 handed, when I should be pretty active. 

During the first level, still only 5 players, blinds of 25/50, I woke up with what my esteemed fellow poker blogger Rob calls "the dreaded pocket kings." I think I was 2nd to act. I made a raise to $500, not an terribly unusual raise. I had at least two callers. The flop comes 987 rainbow. The big blinds opens, and I wonder if he flopped a set or two pair.  I re-raise and both blinds call. It's checked to me when the turn is a low rag, a deuce or a three. I bet again, the small blind folds, but the big blind calls again. The river is a 6, the big blind bets, and I fold. He turns over T5 for a straight.

I had at least 4 or 5 other hands like that, where I had the lead until the river, although it wasn't as easy or obvious to get away from them.

There were two hands in a row where I was dealt a pair of 4s, I think they were even the exact same pair. The first hand I missed and folded to a flop bet. The 2nd one, I flopped the set and bet the flop and turn, but check-folded the river when a flush draw hit.

Another memorable hand was a 3 way hand where I was in the BB, and Tim was in the BB. The UTG player limps in, the next two fold, Tim completes, and I checked with 92o. The flop comes Q92. Tim checks, I check, and the player to my left opens. Tim and I both just call. The turn is an A, and I worry a bit that Tim might have been slow playing AQ. We both check and let the player to my left bet. We both call again. The river is a rag. Tim bets, and I call, while the UTG player folds. Tim shows Q9 for a bigger two pair. We both laugh at slow playing our two pair so the UTG player would bet for us.

The 6th player finally showed up just as we were doing the first chip up, so he was let in, sitting between Tim and I.

I was pretty active for the first couple of levels, and my chip stack fluctuated somewhat. I finally slowed down a bit around the 3rd level, when the blinds were 100/200. Tim hadn't been as active as I had, but was better at picking his spots, and had built his stack up some, including at my expense.

Eventually we get down to the same final four from the first quarterly. Jerry makes a comment about how the finish could end up the same as it did last quarter. He's sitting in 4th, AJ and I are close and Tim is in the lead.  However, Jerry makes a comeback, and AJ goes out in 4th. Jerry is unable to do more than that, and again it's Tim and I heads up. 

Another memorable hand occurs when I have pocket Ts. I raise and Tim calls. The flop is AAx. I check here, and realize after the hand that it was a mistake.  The turn is a K, I bet, and he calls. The river is a rag and again it's bet call. He turns over KJo and rakes the pot. I know that's a fault I need to work on, playing slightly scared and not thinking things through. I was the raiser, I should be representing the ace, not fearing it. Had I bet and he called, I could have just checked it down, and not lost so many chips. 

At some point, Tim tells me to stop calling his bets. A few hands later, I'm in the BB with 23o. There's no raise, so I check. I hit a 3 on a double suited board and call a bet from him. The turn is a 2 that puts a 3 flush on the board. Tim bets and I tell him that since I can't call, I have to raise, causing him to fold.

The last hand occurs at the 3k/6k level. I have AQo in the BB. I raise, Tim shoves. I call, thinking I'm either flipping with vs a medium pair or have him out kicked. Unfortunately he's got me out kicked with AKo. The flop is comes 8 or 9 high, and I'm praying for the board to double pair for a chop.  Lucky for me, though, I spike a Q on the turn and survive the river to win!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

First quarter finale

In the final week before the quarterly tournament, I discovered that while I had earned about 90 points with my back to back victories the previous week, I only moved up from 7th to 5th in the standings. I was also unable to successfully defend my bounties, although I came close in the first session. I got to heads up, but with a pretty big chip disadvantage which I was unable to overcome. In the second session I did not fare as well. I had to buy back in and then in my final hand I got it in good with AA against AQo and AJo preflop. Unfortunately for me, they both went all in on the flop of KQx and AJo rivers a T to knock me out for good.

I continued my processes of thinking good thoughts and being grateful for winning the quarterly throughout the week. The tournament started with only 8 of the 10 qualifiers being able to play. As it progressed, I was able to accumulate chips without much risk. It took a couple of hours before anyone was eliminated. The next two eliminations were not much of a surprise. Then the next player out actually withdrew, as he had somewhere else to be. Up until this point, I was at or close to chip lead. However, right around this time, one of the other players, AJ, took a big chip lead, and I had a brief moment where I thought I might not win, but it quickly left my mind. Unfortunately for him, he ended up being the bubble boy, going out in 4th, earning the consolation prize of $50 worth of rebuy cards. The final three were Jerry, who runs the league; Tim, my main rival; and me. Tim and I were somewhat close in chips, but Jerry was not out of it. After a few circuits, though, it was pretty clear that it was going to be Tim and I heads up. Jerry finally lost the rest of his chips to me. I had a fairly clear, but not big, chip lead with decent stacks, probably 40-50 or more BB. I knew it wouldn't be easy to win, but I was confident that there was enough play left that I could grind it out. I took a small-ball approach, making min-raises on the button somewhat liberally. I slowly built up a big edge, and Tim started calling for a face card to go all-in with. He eventually got one and caught more of the flop than I did. I continued to grind away, trying to get my chips back. The key hand occured when the blinds were getting fairly big, either 3/6k or 4/8k. I was in the same spot Tim had been, looking for a face card. In the small blind, I looked at my first card, a Qd and shoved. Tim immediately called and flipped over a pair of Ts. I took a quick breath and flipped over my other card. I exhaled in relief as it was an Ace. However, I had
to sweat a bit, as I did not hit the flop. I may have had a backdoor straight draw, but I don't recall exactly, which is unusual for me. The turn was no help, but suddenly knew I was going to hit it on the river. Sure enough, Jerry deals a pretty lady. After that, I was certain I would win. Tim and I traded blinds for
several more hands. On the final hand, I was in the SB and had QJ. I min-raised and Tim shoved. I quickly called, thinking I either had him dominated, or was a small dog to an A or K. He flipped over offsuit connectors, something like 67o. The board did not save him, and he admitted he was trying to make a move. With this, I clinched my first league tournament victory in over a year.

I continued a good run last Friday night. I finished 4th in the 1st session, and 3rd in the 2nd. In the second session, we had an amazing hand where 3 of us saw a straight flush on the board, earning all of us the bonus points. I also earned points for having a pocket pair. I should be in the top 3 for the start of the new quarter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Believe in yourself and how to win with pocket kings

It's been a long time since I've posted. Last year ended very poorly for me.  While I played well enough, I did not cash in any of the league tournaments, which is unheard of for me. A lot of it has to do with how losing online poker affected me. I lost some faith in poker, and more importantly, lost faith in myself. In addition, I had "planned" to take a trip to Vegas last year to play in the WSOP. Unfortunately, my wife and I ended up not getting a refund from the IRS, so I couldn't afford to go, and won't be going this year, either.

Things are starting to come back together for me. I've been fairly crushing the WSOP Texas Hold'em app on my iPod. Unbelievable luck has helped a time or two, as well. For example, the other day I flopped a royal flush with AJh, against my last two opponents who also had big aces. All of the money was in by the turn. It's been a couple of years since I've had a royal flush. It was a good feeling.

I didn't play a whole lot online last year, although I started off doing better this year. I've played in a few tournaments and sit-and-gos, mostly on FullTilt. I prefer non Hold'em and mixed games, and have been doing well.

Last Friday at league was another major boost. For the first time in a long time, I won both sessions, earning at least 90 points and moving several places up from 7th in the rankings for the quarter. In each session, I won a big hand with pocket kings, knocking out another player in the process. Both times all of my money was in preflop, and both against AJ. Of course I immediately thought of a blogger I follow, Rob of Rob's Vegas and Poker Blog and his trouble with pocket kings.

In the first hand, we were 5 handed, I was UTG, villian was dealing. Blinds were 50/100. He was somewhat shortstacked. I raised to 1000 and he shoved. He flopped a pair of Js, but was unable to improve beyond that. In the second instance, I was UTG+1, 5 handed, blinds at 100/200. Villian was UTG+2. I had
at least 10-12k, and he had about half that. I looked down and saw the same two red kings I had earlier and raised to 1000, he min-raised, it was folded back to me and I shoved. He took quite a lot of time thinking over the decision. I'm not sure what he put me on, but at that stage of the tournament, with my big stack, and due to points being awarded for being the first to win a hand with the pairs Js+, I have pretty much that as my range. I had him on a big pair, smaller than mine, Qs or Js at best, or more likely AK/AQ. I was surprised when he turned over AJs. That is such a trouble hand in my experience. The flop pretty much sealed things as the first card was a king.

I've been putting more focus on things for which I'm grateful, including my poker skills, and I'm starting to see results.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

League Craziness - June

June 1st was a fun night. In an early hand, I had pocket kings in the cutoff. The UTG player raised and it was called around to me. Since league is often no fold’em hold’em, rather than raise, and win a smallish pot, I decided to set a trap. I struck gold when I flopped a set and the early position raiser led out. I thought a bit and called. The turn gave me a boat, and I thought before calling again. When he bet the river, I min-raised and was called. I showed my boat and he mucked. I took down a nicer pot than had I shoved preflop. In a later hand, one of the guys threw out a straddle and so I decided to do a double straddle. I continued to straddle when I could. That led to some fun hands, including another where I ended up all in, and flop top set with 8s. I finished 3rd and 2nd for the night.
I missed playing on the 8th of June, as my wife and I had friends in from out of town. Ended up staying up later than if I’d gone to poker. We talked until around 3 or 4am.

Off and on during league play, I'll text how I'm doing to my twitter account. I was checking out twitter to follow some of the WSOP results. I decided to search again and found a nice twitter app that I like, Tweetcaster. I've become rather addicted to it. It's been great following the results of my favorite players. It also keeps me from being bored between hands and sessions. I first used it during league on the 15th.

It was kind of weird, playing during the College World Series. Typically the bar is packed, but since the CWS moved from Rosenblatt, it's been no different than a typical night. 

I finished 5th/7 in the first session, busting out with AKs v AA on a K-high flop. I didn't have any memorable hands that I tweeted or recall. In the second session I had an interesting hand where I put in a blind double straddle. On a flop of 974, the UTG player shoves. I finally look at my cards and see a pair of Aces. I go all-in to isolate. He flips over K4. He turns a K and I call for a 9, 7 or A. I get lucky and river a 7. We started with 8 or 10, and when we got down to one table of 4, I had a huge chip lead. However, it quickly shrunk when two players were eliminated and it got to heads up. We went back and forth, playing mostly small pots until I won a big hand and took a solid lead.

On the 22nd, my wife finally was able to join me, as did a friend of ours from Texas, who was up here for her birthday, on the 23rd. She and I played one session. She had to buy back in, but played very well and finished in 2nd place, outlasting me. I was very proud of her. She was happy as well, especially after Jerry, who runs the league, jokingly made a comment to me, to tell her not to overplay her hand. She had shoved with something like AK, and he thought she was trying to get points for a pocket pair. She ended up knocking him out later when she rivered a flush to beat his straight.

I'm hoping to do well this week to finish up the quarter. Next week is the quarterly, and I'm planning on putting any winnings I happen to earn into my poker fund, so I can go play some $3/6 limit.

I've also been playing on my Zynga poker app on my Droid, and occasionally playing TH poker on my PC, both of which I'm doing well against.